River Bluff and Palmetto Academy named champions in SC Bar’s We the People Competition

COLUMBIA, SC – River Bluff High School of Lexington and Palmetto Academy of Learning and Success of Myrtle Beach won the South Carolina Bar’s We the People competition held Dec. 8 at River Bluff High School in Lexington.

Led by teacher coach Linsy Dooley, the River Bluff High School team brought home its impressive sixth state title for the high school state championship.

“The skills our students gain from We the People are innumerable. They have opportunities to practice collaboration, time management, personal responsibility, public speaking skills, and perhaps most importantly, civil discourse,” said Dooley. “Students learn how to support an argument with evidence and how to respectfully disagree with others, two skills that are very important in society today.”

Teacher coach BJ DeCerbo led Palmetto Academy to its third consecutive middle school championship.

“The students are so excited about their own ability to successfully navigate through the judges follow up questions it gives the students a boost in confidence,” said DeCerbo. “With today's generations relying on communicating with just technology it is great to see how the students have to interact with each other as a team to a panel of judges that are genuinely excited to hear what the students have to say. Students also are able to learn ways to express their ideas, which will benefit them for the rest of their lives.”

The first runner-up for the high school division was Carolina Forest High School of Myrtle Beach led by teacher coach JJ Lagulli, who has taught in the Social Studies Department for 14 years. Southeast Middle School of Hopkins placed first runner-up in the middle school division, led by teacher coach Lekena Ackerman.

The goal of the competition is to increase education of the Constitution for students in South Carolina and across the country. Students demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles and have opportunities to evaluate, take and defend positions on relevant historical and contemporary issues. Volunteer attorneys throughout the state help judge the day-long simulated congressional hearing in which students "testify" before a panel of judges.

Susan Hackett, SC Bar Law Related Education (LRE) Committee chair and volunteer judge, spoke highly about her experience.

"The students really shine when discussing how our modern-day lives are affected by such an old document and by what people who were alive hundreds of years ago believed,” said Hackett. “I always leave the competition feeling positive about the future”

The We the People program is sponsored by the SC Bar’s LRE Division, which was developed in 1976 to improve the ability of teachers to instruct law related education. The program is supported by the Bar’s LRE Committee and made possible through a SC Bar Foundation Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts grant and the SC Bar.

The South Carolina Bar is a statewide organization dedicated to improving the legal profession, the law, and the administration of justice for all South Carolinians. It serves more than 17,000 lawyer members and provides resources to educators and citizens of the Palmetto State. Learn more at www.scbar.org

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