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COLUMBUS - Students from Van Wert High School, led by teacher Bob Priest, took home the state runner-up trophy at the 2013 We the People: the Citizen and the Constitution high school state competition on Friday, Jan. 25. Findlay High School (Findlay) won first place.
Participating Van Wert students were Sarah Aurand, Jacob Hoverman, Corrie Smith, Tracy Nguyen, Kase Schalois, Redd Wermer, Jacey Eikenberry, Melissa Bono, Sydney Collins, Cody Adeblue, Kelly Carnahan, Matt Saunier, Nik Wolford, Rachel Chen, Mandy Couts, Jessica Klausing, Joey Hurless, Jon Lisa and Caleb Markward.

Over 150 students from eight classes participated in the competition, held at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center in downtown Columbus. Other participating schools included Archbold High School (Archbold), Bishop Hartley High School (Columbus), Findlay High School (Findlay), Fostoria High School (Fostoria), Northmont High School (Clayton), St. Henry High School (St. Henry), and West Carrollton High School (West Carrollton). We the People is a program of the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education.

"Every year, we are amazed at both the depth of the students' understanding of the principles of our country's founding document and the extent of the analysis undertaken. The critical thinking and participatory skills demonstrated by the students will serve them well as they become active, responsible citizens." said Lisa Eschleman, OCLRE executive director and one of the competition judges.

Judges, attorneys, state legislators, college professors, and other community leaders from across Ohio judged the competition. In addition to serving as a judge, State Representative Robert Sprague of House District 83 delivered the keynote address at the closing ceremony and presented the awards to the students. Sprague recalled how his participation in We the People during high school was instrumental in his decision to pursue a career in public service and encouraged the students to use the experience to remain committed to active participation in civic issues throughout their lives.

We the People is a nationally acclaimed civic education program, helping students understand the history, philosophies, and evolution of our constitutional government, focusing on the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Upon completion of the classroom study, the students participate in simulated congressional hearings, allowing them to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. The program is administered in Ohio by the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education and nationally by the Center for Civic Education.