Student Testifies All day Before Congress
In April Russell Berg of Trumbull had the rare opportunity to testify before a Senate committee on the merits of civic education and American history in the classroom.
Russell is a senior at Trumbull High School and a member of the Trumbull We the People team that represented Connecticut in the national competition held recently in Washington, D.C. In April the Center for Civic Education, the organization that administers the We the People program nationally, asked that a member of the Trumbull team be selected to testify before Senators Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. and Christopher Dodd, D-Conn. in support of Alexander’s proposed American History and Civic Education Act, a bill to foster history classes in schools through summer residential academies for teachers and students of American history.
Russell, 17, was selected from among 20 classmates by teacher and Trumbull We the People advisor, Peter Sullivan.
This year the Consortium will be hosting summer workshops on We the People and mock trial programs. The workshops will be held on August 5 and 6, from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm, at the Rocky Hill Marriott.
The August 5 workshop will focus on We the People…Project Citizen, a portfolio-based civic education project for middle school students. Lorna Gallagher, a teacher at Lisbon Middle School, will lead the session. On August 6 a workshop will be held on We the People… The Citizen and the Constitution, a civic education program focusing on the history and principles of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. The focus of this workshop will be the adaptation of the program for middle and high school students with a lower reading ability. Julie Jaquish, also a teacher in Lisbon, will lead the August 6 session.
A workshop on the Mock Trial Program will also be held on August 6, focusing on coaching middle school or high school teams. Beth DeLuco, coordinator of the Mock Trial Program, will lead the workshop.
The August workshops are free of charge, and participating teachers will receive classroom sets of We the People textbooks. Teachers may attend one or two of the workshops, and accommodations at the Marriott will be provided for the first twelve participants attending both days. Anyone interested in an application or more information regarding the workshops is asked to call the Consortium office, (860) 509-6184.
26 Annual High School Mock Trial Competition
The 2003 mock trial competition included a record-breaking 850 students, representing 61 teams throughout the state.
This year’s case, Neighbors Against AIDS Home v. Vickie G. Knight, Trustee of “Our House,” concerned a zoning dispute regarding whether a home for AIDS patients should be allowed in a residential neighborhood.
In March teams competed in regional rounds in courts throughout the state, followed by quarter-final and semi-final rounds in April. The state final competition was held on Law Day, May 1, at the Connecticut Supreme Court in Hartford.
This year’s finalists included teams from West Haven High School and Shelton High School. In one of the closest competitions in years, judged by Supreme Court Justices William Sullivan, Joette Katz, and Christine Vertefeuille, West Haven was declared the 2003 state finalist.
Regional coordinators for the 2003 Mock Trial Program included Wendy Grispin, Danbury Region; Paul Rubin, Manchester Region; Deborah Moore, New Haven Region; Kara Crismale, New London Region; Beth DeLuco, Middletown Region; Maurice Segall, Stamford Region; Dan Shaban, Waterbury Region; and Fred Stanek, Derby Region. Beth DuLuco served as coordinator for the program.
Middle School Mock Trial Competition
Not to be out done by the popularity of the High School Mock Trial Program, a record-breaking number of students participated in the Sixth Annual Middle School Program, as well.
This year 530 students, representing 38 teams from middle schools throughout the state, took part in the Mock Trial Program. The case, The People of New Justice v. Sydney Briggs, involved school vandalism. The case was written by senior honor students Christopher DeMatteo and Matthew Carney of Xavier High School in Middletown.
Three regional rounds of competition were held in December, and winning teams advanced to quarter and semi-final rounds. The final round of competition, between Bedford Middle School of Westport and King Philip Middle School of West Hartford, took place on January 14 at the New Britain Superior Court. King Philip won the final round; the West Hartford team also won the 2002 competition.
The Middle School Mock Trial Program is co-sponsored by the Consortium and the Connecticut Bar Association.