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Forest Hills HS students put history chops to the test

Thirty AP Government Forest Hills High School students will make their way up to Albany to show off their knowledge of history at the “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution” competition in March.

The students placed second — missing first place by one point — in the citywide “We the People” competition at Pace University in early January. Both the city and state contests are sponsored by the state Bar Association and created by the Center for Civic Education.

“Our students will be in six teams and will be in mock congressional hearings,” said Edward Lam, teacher of the Advanced Placement Government class. “Each team will be responsible for arguing for and defending an aspect of the Constitution.”

Students have to author a seven−page paper on various parts of the Constitution and turn those papers into speeches, which they will give during the competition.

“For example, one paper had to be about the Founding Fathers and their struggles in putting together the Constitution,” Lam said.

The Forest Hills students, all of whom are members of Lam’s AP Government course, will compete in the statewide competition in the first weekend of March alongside Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan and Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn. Stuyvesant placed first in the citywide event.

There will be a total of nine schools participating in the Albany competition.

“The competition is really important,” Lam said. “In years past, I’ve had students tell me they have decided to change career paths because of this competition. It’s turned students on to civics and government, and it gives them a deeper appreciation of the Constitution.”

“I know it sounds cliched, but the students get really into it, and it’s cool to see a bunch of high school kids get into government and philosophy,” Lam added.

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D−Forest Hills) praised the students, to whom he gave pocket−sized copies of the Constitution in November when he spoke to them about civics and the newly elected President Barack Obama.

“These students have the chops to make it to the top, and I know they will make their parents, teachers and community proud,” Weiner said in a statement. “It’s priceless to see our youth actively learning about the political process, especially during these exciting times in Washington.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at agustafson@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.

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