St. Johnsbury Academy's took first place in the Vermont finals of the annual "We the People: The Citizen and The Constitution" competition, held Dec. 9 at the State House in Montpelier.

The Academy first entered the competition in 1999 and previously won the state title from 1999-2003 and in 2005.

Academy team members, all seniors from social studies teachers Hank Eaton and Timothy Root's Advanced Placement American Government and Politics classes, began preparing early this fall for their competition role as experts testifying on selected aspects of the U.S. Constitution and the rights and responsibilities of citizens in a simulated congressional hearing format.

"Our students received the highest scores for an Academy team in the past 10 years of competition," Eaton said. "They will now be faced with raising money for their trip to Washington, D.C. for the National Finals in April."

Academy team members included St. Johnsbury residents Julian Grant, Cyrus Ready-Campbell, Adam Marchesseault, Thomas Jarrett, Eric Rauert, Elizabeth Baker, Ethan Goss, Stanislas Walden, Dimitrios Kapoukranidis and Ryan Weber; Jordan Dekett of Wheelock; Raymond Couture from West Danville; Morgan Macie of Lunenburg; Trevor Gaston, Martin McGorty and Melissa Dimas, all from Monroe, N.H.; Hannah Valence and William Kerin, both of Lyme, N.H.; Alexander Verpaelst of Littleton, N.H.; Xiangru Chen and Ningyi Xi, both from China; and Daniel Choy from South Korea.

The Academy's highest scoring unit team included Grant, Ready-Campbell, Jarrett, and Marchesseault, who addressed the philosophical and historical origins of the United States' constitutional system of government.

Until this year, the nationwide We The People program was sponsored by the Center for Civic Education, a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational corporation specializing in civic/citizenship education, law-related education, and international educational exchange programs for developing democracies.

Center programs focus on the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, American political traditions and institutions at the federal, state, and local levels; constitutionalism; civic participation; and the rights and responsibilities of citizens.

Although Congress did not grant funding for this year's competition, the Center hopes to continue the annual We The People national championship event with the help of donations.

Root coordinated this year's state championship competition with support from the Vermont Bar Association, which formerly organized and ran the event, Eaton added.

Additional information about the Center for Civic Education is available by visiting its website, www.civiced.org.

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