By Renee Larr
An eighth-grade Civics class at Fishers Junior High School recently won the national We the People Invitational in Washington, D.C. The event tests teams’ knowledge of the U.S. government by simulating congressional hearings. Each team is divided into six units that focus on a particular part of government.
“Each of the six units sat in front of judges and read a four-minute prepared statement to a prompt they knew in advance. Then they had six minutes of follow-up questions by the judges. We had no idea in advance what they were going to ask,” said Mike Fassold, the team’s sponsor and teacher.
The students tried out as seventh-graders for the team and began preparing before school started in the fall.
“They had summer work for me. On the first day of school when everyone is reading room management plans, they walked in and took a 45-question test on the Constitution for a grade,” Fassold said. “They have to keep taking that test until they get a 95 percent on it.”
The students didn’t only memorize parts of the Constitution, they had to know how to apply in a modern-day scenario.
“It’s the ability to take information and then apply it across spheres. They’ll get a question about a modern-day dilemma in government, but then have to apply principles written by Aristotle, so it’s a very fluid application of knowledge,” Fassold said.
He said he’s still processing the win, but his students are excited their hard work paid off.
“I feel like the biggest reward was seeing the joy on everyone’s faces. I wasn’t interested in government before, but now that I’ve been introduced to all this I really love it,” said Olivia Lux, WTP team member.
For Fassold, creating civically minded students is more of a reward than the trophy.
For more, visit civiced.org/national-invitational-2017.