COVINGTON, Wash. -- Learning and applying the U.S. Constitution is one of the most important and complex legal studies in our country. A group of Tahoma High School students have mastered the subject matter in less than a year and have just returned from a national competition putting their knowledge of the Constitution to the test.
The program is called We The People (WTP). It is similar to AP Government courses in most high school curriculums. We The People has been around since 1987. This year, students from Tahoma High School in Covington placed fourth at nationals in Washington, D.C.
In simulated Senate hearings, civics curriculum comes to life. Students are challenged with questions, and in answering them, they must apply the Constitution, Bill of Rights and current events.
"By being able to be in this class and discuss these issues, it got me very interested in what defines America," explained student Jayaran Ravi.
WTP is proving successful at inspiring students to be active in the political process, according to educators.
"It helps you remember that you know your rights, and knowing your rights is totally important," said student Renee Hancock.
Created and originally funded through an Act of Congress nearly 30 years ago, WTP has educated more than 28 million students who put their knowledge of the Constitution to the test on district, state and national levels.
"The things that you're working on are things that you're passionate about, so memorizing these large quotes or learning these citations from books comes almost second nature because you are so interested in what you're learning about," student Megan Simmons said.
WTP teacher Gretchen Wulfing knows when kids are passionate about government, everyone stands to benefit.
"If we invest in citizens at this age, they will turn into engaged, active voting young adults and it's incredibly successful," Wulfing said.
With last year's midterm elections hitting a 72-year low in voter turnout, Wulfing and her students hope lawmakers will approve renewed funding for the program to expand its reach to many more high schools across Washington state and the country.
"I would like to have a more educated citizenry in terms of young people understanding what's going on at our federal and even state level," said Simmons.
For more information on We The People, click here.