National Public Schools Week puts spotlight on education

WASHOE COUNTY, Nev. – The Washoe County School District will join counterparts nationwide in celebrating National Public Schools Week from now through March 1.

Incline Village has three public schools.

  • Incline Elementary School
  • Incline Middle School
  • Incline High School

“We celebrate our public education system in Washoe County and the knowledge, support, training and services it provides to our students and families,” said WCSD Board of Trustees President Beth Smith. “Above all, our educators, staff members, and Board trustees are dedicated to the success and well-being of our children, and I am proud and privileged to serve with them in this worthy work.”

The annual event recognizes the importance of public schools in the lives of more than 50 million public school students in America. It also showcases the vital role public schools play in providing equitable learning opportunities for all students.

“We are proud of the work we do to support our 60,000 students, their families, and our 8,000 staff members who make a free, high-quality public education possible in Washoe County,” said Dr. Kristen McNeill, WCSD interim superintendent. “This is a celebration of our neighborhood public schools, where students learn, grow, and find the supports and services they need every day. I commend our educators, support staff members, and administrators who bring their skills and training to their work on behalf of our children.”

Public Schools Week 2024 is part of the national effort to celebrate the role of free public education in America. Public schools let children improve their lives by providing a free education from teachers, staff and administrators who support and advocate for their students.

More than 10 million educators, principals, parents and community members are expected to participate in events to honor the public school system. The observance is sponsored in part by the American School Superintendents Association, American Federation of Teachers, American School Counselor Association, the National School Boards Association, the National PTA, and others.

To learn more about Public Schools Week, visit www.publicschoolproud.org.

Incline High’s “We the People” team earns national competition spot

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. – Incline High School’s “We the People” team will head to in Leesburg, Virginia, in April to take part in the national competition. The team just learned it received a coveted “wild card” spot, one of only a handful in the country.

“Many thanks, and congratulations to our team from Incline High School,” said Victoria Campbell, public information officer for the Washoe County School District. “We are proud of their hard work, and look forward to hearing the results of the competition.”

Reno High School’s “We the People” team took first place in the state competition earlier this year. Because of that, Reno’s team will also go to the national championship.

Under Instructor Milt Hyams and U.S. history teacher Amy Henderson Eitz’ instruction, Incline High’s team placed second in the state competition. It qualified for the national finals in the second category, by being designated as a “wild card” class.

“I think the Incline team was very deserving of it,” said Hyams, teacher of “We the People” class. “Their performance at the state level was extremely impressive. They’re a really, really good team and deserving of the honor.”

University of Nevada, Reno, Professor and “We the People” alumnus Zelalem Bogale, Incline High Instructor Milton Hyams, Mia Galvan, Lindsey Deanda, Abby Duckworth, Kim Lara, Auri Fernandez, Addy LaForge, Parker Mirzayan, Kate Wechsler, Jesse Santina, Mia Salas (holding plaque), Evee Justice, Noah Breakell, Emily Brubaker, Kyler Thompson, Liam Jones, Chief Justice of the Nevada Supreme Court Elissa Cadish.
Provided

Hyams has taught “We the People” for 27 years, 24 of those have been at Incline High. The school has been to the national finals 15 times.

“It truly is a community event,” Hyams said. “We have a team of coaches from the community and alumni of the program. They mentor the students. I serve as a general manager in some ways. It’s because of them that our students have been so successful over the years.”

This team is an extraordinary group of young people.

“They’re hard working, super supportive of each other, and just a great group of kids that want the best for each other,” Hyams said. “I’ve taught this program for a long time and you rarely find a group of kids who work so well as a team.”

“We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution National Finals” is a yearly competition for U.S. high school students. The national finals simulate a Congressional hearing that takes place at the National Conference Center and in congressional hearing rooms on Capitol Hill.

The event is sponsored by the Center for Civic Education.

The team is divided into six units, each composed of three to six students. Each unit focuses on an area of Constitutional interest from philosophical underpinnings and Constitutional Convention to the Bill of Rights and modern day implications, according to Wikipedia.

Students are judged on criteria such as their understanding, reasoning, responsiveness, and use of constitutional applications.

To prepare for the national finals, students learn about government and study the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

In each class, the groups prepare four-minute opening statements in response to three congressional hearing questions. Afterward, judges ask students questions to test their knowledge in a six-minute question and answer period.

During the national finals more than 1,200 students from 56 classes testify before 72 judges, in panels of three, according to Wikipedia. The judges are history, political science, law, and others with a knowledge of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The national finals takes place over three days. The top 12 classes from the first two days advance to the final round of competition in hearing rooms on Capitol Hill.

During the first two days of the national finals competition, each unit testifies on two hearing questions. The classes with the 12 highest combined scores go to the final round on the third day.

The top 12 places are determined by combining the scores from the first two days and a weighted final round score.

During the competition, students may be asked:

• What was the impact of early experiments with representative democracy, such as colonial assemblies and town meetings, on the development of the American political system?

• How does the tension between protecting individual rights and promoting the common good manifest in the structure and language of the Constitution?

• Why did Thomas Jefferson use the phrase “Revolution of 1800” to describe that year’s presidential election? What aspects of the election and its aftermath led to its characterization as a revolution? How did it signify a transformative moment in American politics?

• How has civil disobedience evolved in American history in terms of its nature, methods and motivations? What are some historical examples of these changes?

“Since the inception of the “We the People” program in 1987, more than 28 million students and 90 thousand educators have participated in the program and more than 30,000 students have participated in the national finals,” according to the Center for Civic Education.

The Washoe County School District has a strong track record in local, state, and national “We the People” competitions. It participated in the 2023 event.

Last year, “We the People” teams from Reno High School and Reed High School placed first in their respective divisions during the national competition in Virginia. Reno High School received the Division Award for Division C and placed 14th overall in the nation, while Reed High School received the Division Award for Division D and placed 16th overall, according to a school press release.

Every year nearly $2 million is raised to support the national finals.

This year the Incline High team needs $70,000 to cover the trip expenses for 14 students plus six teachers and/or coaches for a week.

Donations can be mailed or dropped off at Incline High School, attention “We the People” at 499 Village Boulevard, Incline 89451.