BKW student part of state champ ‘We The People’ class

Group of the state champions holding their award.
The winning team, from left: Quentin Rubel, Chatham; Carson Rowe, Scotia-Glenville; Kelsey Delaney, Schalmont; Edwin Lawson, Berne-Knox-Westerlo; Skyler Leveroni, Averill Park; Matthew McHugh, Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk; Jared Scali, Hudson; Sureet Pabbi, Niskayuna; Emma Trendell, Schoharie and Madison Tyndell, Rensselaer.

BKW senior Edwin Lawson and his teammates in the Capital Region BOCES Career and Technical School (CTE) and Questar III New Visions: Law & Government program are state champions in the “We The People: The Citizen and the Constitution” competition.

For the third consecutive year, the high honors program won the state-level “We The People: The Citizen and the Constitution” competition.

Comprising students from several area high schools in the Questar III and Capital Region BOCES regions, the New Visions: Law & Government team bested more than 100 finalists from five other school districts from across the state. The team now advances to the national competition held in Washington, D.C. on April 21-April 24.

To win, the New Visions: Law & Government students, who attend the program for a half-day and their home high schools the other half, had to explain the philosophical and historical foundations on which the American political system is based.

In the setting of a simulated congressional hearing, the students “testified” before panels of judges to demonstrate their extensive knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles, and they evaluated, took, and defended positions on relevant historical and contemporary issues, ranging from recent Supreme Court rulings about the Voting Rights Act, to the First Amendment rights of students on social media regarding speech about school, to federal immigration policy.

The 10 New Visions: Law & Government students didn’t let being the smallest team represented interfere with their success as they bested five other regional champion teams ranging from 12 to 34-students from Long Island, New York City and western New York, their teacher, attorney Rich Bader said.

The winning New Visions: Law & Government student team consists of:

  • Kelsey Delaney, Schalmont High School
  • Ed Lawson, Berne-Knox-Westerlo High School
  • Skyler Leveroni, Averill Park High School
  • Matthew McHugh, Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk High School
  • Sureet Pabbi, Niskayuna High School
  • Carson Rowe, Scotia-Glenville High School
  • Quentin Rubel, Chatham High School
  • Jared Scali, Hudson High School
  • Emma Trendell, Schoharie High School
  • Madison Tyndell, Rensselaer High School

One of the judges, Tim Backus, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction at South Colonie School District, remarked that the New Visions students “really know their stuff,” an understanding of the Constitution that was both in-depth and extensive.

Another judge, attorney Mary Berry, Albany Law School’s Government Lawyer-in-Residence at its Government Law Center, said the students did an excellent job of presenting” good, respectful disagreement” that demonstrated an impressive breadth of knowledge.

Bader said “the New Visions: Law & Government students prepared for the competition in part by studying ‘We The People: The Citizen and Constitution’, an intensive curriculum focusing on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.” Funded and run in New York by the New York State Bar Association’s Law Youth and Citizenship program since 2010 when Congress stopped funding this civic education program, the program has benefited 30 million students nationally during its 30-year history. Bader said “at a time when surveys and studies show us that New Yorkers and all Americans know less and less about the Constitution and how our government works, these student are able to show they know more than ever.”

New Visions: Law & Government is a unique, career-exploration and honors Advanced Placement (AP) and college credit-granting program offered by the Capital Region BOCES Career & Technical School for honors-level, college-bound high school seniors. Based in a classroom at the New York State Education Building in downtown Albany, New Visions: Law & Government students study an integrated curriculum of advanced coursework in political science, law, English and economics, with government and law-related internships, job shadowing, field trips, community service and competitions. Students learn first-hand about the executive, legislative and judicial branches of New York State government, as well as about the private legal sector.

New Visions: Law & Government is accepting applications through March 18 from High School juniors for the 2017-18 school year and will host an evening open house on January 31, 2017 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Capital Region BOCES Career and Technical Education Center, Building B, 1015 Watervliet-Shaker Road, Colonie. For more information, call (518) 486-2613.
The Capital Region BOCES Career & Technical School also offers New Visions programs in Health Careers and Multimedia and Digital Communications.