Wood Middle School team places in national Consitition competition in Washington, D.C.

The journey officially began at 7:54 a.m., when a group of 30 eighth-graders from Inza R. Wood Middle School took off from Portland on a flight to Washington, D.C.’s Dulles International Airport. Their trip ended in triumph, as Wood’s team took second place in the second-annual middle school “We the People” competition.

The students are members of Wood’s Constitution Academy class, and they were headed to D.C. to take part in a competition that promotes civic education and knowledge among secondary students nationwide. The Wood students joined seven other middle-school teams from around the nation to display their knowledge of the United States Constitution.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Eighth-graders from Inza R. Wood Middle School took time for sightseeing in between their appearances at the We the People competition in Washington, D.C.Wood’s students comprised six teams, each of which was given a specialized area of study. Topics included the Philadelphia convention, early government, the framers’ intentions, federalism, freedom of expression and due process, and voting and voting restrictions. The students studied those topics and others in a special class that each student applied to be in.

“We’re also known as the D.C. kids,” team member Abigal Vanderhoff said.

The students have worked together since the beginning of the second semester of school, studying the Constitution and working with coaches to prepare for last week’s national competition. Each of Wood’s six teams prepared four-minute presentations on their topic of study and also prepared for six minutes of questioning from panels of judges on that topic.

Students applied for the academy class in January. Each applicant wrote an essay and obtained teacher recommendations. Grades also were considered in the admission decisions. Thirty students were admitted, and they formed six teams.

“It’s a class for those who are dedicated and work hard and find a passion in it,” team member Madison Tiderman said.

Heading into the competition, the team was committed to placing at least third in preliminary competition over the weekend. A third-place or better showing would allow the team the chance to compete in the finals on Monday, something the students and their teacher, Linda Koller, agreed was one goal.

Winning wasn’t the only goal, of course.

“Ms. Koller says it’s not where we place that matters. It’s the experience,” Emily Aube said.

Adding to the experience, Koller had lined up plenty of sightseeing opportunities for the team, with excursions to the White House, the Capitol buildings, the Supreme Court and the Smithsonian, among other sites.

For some team members, though, the competition itself was the sole focus of the trip.

“I’m most excited about the competition,” Brandon Kyung said. “The monuments will always be there, but the competition is only for eighth grade.”

Back in Wilsonville since April 8, the students have more to look forward to than their memories of the trip.

“We still have a whole quarter of schooling,” Abigail said.

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