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Henley Middle “We the People” team winning big in national competition

Published: May. 27, 2022 at 5:04 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - A group of Albemarle County middle school students are showing off their knowledge about the U.S. Constitution and American politics, garnering a new set of medals for their work.

Eighth graders at Henley Middle School first got involved in “We the People,” a curriculum testing students on their knowledge of politics and government structures, through their Civics class.

“I was really interested in learning about American Government and what it means to be an American citizen,” said Evan Xu, a member of the team. “I think it really paid off.”

After months of studying, preparation, and numerous competitions across the state, it did pay off. They got to bring home some gold, placing second in the We the People national competition, going against about a dozen different school across the country.

“Oh my gosh, it was incredible,” Xu said. “The entire room went crazy. We were all jumping up and down we were so excited.”

Getting to this point was not easy. The team had to study, test, and interview with judges, on top of their regular school work. Competitions were also virtual.

“Normally when you’re in a room with other people, you make eye contact, you’re talking face to face, you can read their body language so you can kind of get an idea of what they’re getting at,” Xu said. “Over virtual, you’re kind of missing all of those cues, but it’s good to be in the same room as your friends or as your colleagues when you’re also competing virtually, because you can give them a nudge under the table when you think they should answer something.”

It’s something their teacher Pam Koury is proud of.

“So much of what we do is affected by the government, and a lot of time students don’t realize that and this is allowing them to better understand how their government impacts them, what their role is within the country and how they can initiate change,” Koury said.

Not only did her students gain a new set of medals for their hard work. They gained some new friends along the way.

“It brought people from all different parts of the school together. Whether their main interest be athletic or academic, no matter what their favorite subject was, no matter who they were, We the People was a great way to bring a bunch of different people together and make new friend,” Xu said.

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