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2023 VA We the People State Finals Results


January 28, 2023

Contact: Jen Patja Howell

Co-Executive Director, VA Civics


[email protected]

2023 VA We the People State Finals Results

Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School, Douglas S. Freeman High School, and J. T. Henley Middle School Shine in the We the People Virginia State Finals

Virginia Civics hosted the 2023 Virginia We the People High School and Middle School State Finals on January 28, 2023, at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. After vying for coveted competition spots through an initial qualifying round in December, students competed to see who would become the next Virginia We the People State Champion of their respective grade level, with the high school winners going on to represent the state at the We the People National Finals in April. This year, Virginia also has a wild-card berth to the National Finals, giving the 2nd place high school team an opportunity to represent the Commonwealth this spring.

We the People is an award-winning, nonpartisan curriculum that helps students understand the history and principles of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. During the competition, students present four minutes of mock congressional testimony and answer six minutes of follow-up questions about historical, political, and constitutional issues. The competition judges, consisting of attorneys, politicians, professors, and community leaders, assess the initial testimony of the students and probe their knowledge during the question-and-answer period. Teams first compete in in-school and qualifier competitions to earn a berth in the state competition. Virginia Civics co-Executive Director Jen Patja Howell said, “We the People students have demonstrated extraordinary dedication to learning about the Constitution and the rule of law through preparing for this competition. Our country needs these kinds of leaders now more than ever.”

After two rounds of intense competition, 36 judges determined the overall team winners based on their understanding of the material, constitutional application, reasoning, supporting evidence, responsiveness, and participation.

We the People High School State Standings

State Champion: Maggie Walker Governor’s School
Runner-Up (and wild-card entry for National Finals): Douglas Freeman High School
Third Place: Glen Allen High School
Fourth Place: Western Albemarle High School
Fifth Place: Albemarle High School
Also competed: Alexandria City High School, Oakton High School, and Rappahannock High School

2023 VA State Finals High School Champion: Maggie Walker Governor’s School
Photo credit: Drew Precious
2023 VA WtP State Finals High School Runner Up: Freeman High School
Photo credit: Drew Precious

We the People Middle School State Standings

State Champion: J.T. Henley Middle School
Runner-Up: Browne Academy
Third Place: Midlothian Middle School
Fourth Place: Pennington Traditional School

2023 VA WtP State Finals Middle School Champion: J. T. Henley Middle School
Photo credit: Drew Precious

We’d also like to thank our 50+ volunteers who made this event possible. We recognize our volunteers and teachers who have been giving their time in dedication to Virginia’s students for five and ten-plus years with pins. This year’s new five-year pin recipients are Alex Bennett, Amelia Bochain, Tab Broyles, Ryan Conway, Maria Garnett, Beth Herndon, Pam Koury, Mike Miles, and Joe Valenti. This year’s new ten-year pin recipients are Cash Arehart and Stefanie Hession.

Congratulations to all of the teams that participated this year, and best of luck to our National Finals competitors!

About Author

Jen Patja

Emily Voss

Emily Voss comes to civic education from the museum world, where she was passionate about making museums relevant to the modern world. She currently serves as the Manager of National Programs for the Center for Civic Education. Prior to that, she served as the Education Director at the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier where she spent the past decade developing programs for adult professionals that invited engagement with America’s founding documents. She served as the Virginia State Coordinator of the We the People program for 10 years and is a co-founder of Virginia Civics. Emily holds a BA in History from Gettysburg College, and an MA in Museum Education from the Cooperstown Graduate Program (SUNY). She and her family currently reside in central Virginia.

Co-Executive Director & Chief Programs Officer

Jen Patja

Jen Patja has dedicated her career to strengthening constitutional self-government through her work with Virginia Civics, the Center for Civic Education, and Montpelier’s Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution, where she served as Deputy Director. Jen is a co-founder of Virginia Civics, and serves as a House of Delegates-appointed member of the Virginia Commission on Civic Education, a state legislative commission. She is the producer and editor of “Rational Security,” a weekly foreign policy and national security roundup, and “The Lawfare Podcast,” a daily audio production in cooperation with the Brookings Institution. Jen has held teaching and research positions at the University of Virginia, most notably in Criminology and the school’s University Internship Program with the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. She received her master’s in Sociology from the University of Virginia, and a bachelor’s in English from the University of California, Berkeley.

Co-Executive Director & Chief Operating Officer

Amelia Bochain

Amelia Bochain has devoted her professional life to effective social studies education that fosters civil discourse. As a classroom teacher for nine years, she implemented project-based learning that focused on civic engagement and encouraging effective discussion skills. She is particularly passionate about the We the People program, where she coached teams that placed in regional, state, and national competitions.

State Coordinator