More than 400 students from 14 San Diego and Riverside County middle schools competed recently at San Diego State in a Mock Congressional Hearing, culminating their study of the United States Constitution.
Oak Grove Middle School in the Jamul-Dulzura Union School District and Hillsdale Middle in the Cajon Valley Union School District tied for top honors among local schools, with Van Avery Prep of Riverside County topping the competition among northern schools.
"There's nothing more important than giving students true meaning and application of the thing they're taught, and that's what this competition did," said Greg Spielman, a teacher at Oak Grove Middle School and the advisor for their team.
"The kids loved it," Spielman added, "and they worked real, real hard. They researched issues, they memorized their speeches. But before that, they had to understand the Constitutional concepts, how those concepts applied, how the Supreme Court ruled, and how the issue has played out in society. And they expressed their opinions on is. The judges were completely blown away."
The all-day competition required students to make four-minute presentations on a Constitutional issue before a panel of judges, which included local assemblyman Joel Anderson, as well as SDSU professors, deputy district attorneys, retired judges and representatives of local service organizations. After their presentations, students fielded questions from the judging panel for six minutes.
"They knocked the judges socks off," Spielman said.
Participating schools included Meadowbrook and Black Mountain Middle Schools from the Poway Unified School District; Van Avery Prep from Temecula and Pinacate Middle School of Perris.
East County schools that took part were Oak Grove; Hillsdale, Cajon Valley and Emerald Middle Schools from the Cajon Valley School District. Roosevelt Middle School from San Diego Unified School District also took part.