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We the People Competitions

Students from all corners of Virginia compete to see who will become the next We the People State Champion.


Frequently questions and answers

We the People competitions in Virginia are for middle and high school We the People teams. Teams may be regularly rostered classes or club teams for both middle and high school competitions. Only regularly rostered classes are eligible to compete at the We the People National Finals, per the rules set by the Center for Civic Education.

Teachers register their class(es) online to compete in the December and January competitions. Intent to compete forms need to be completed by the teacher in order to bring a team to regionals or states.

Participation in a regional competition is required for high schools to compete at the state level. Schools may elect to compete in any regional competition, in-person or virtual, held in December. The top 8 scoring high schools in the regional finals are invited to compete in the state competition. 

There are no regional competitions for middle schools. Those wishing to compete at the state competition simply need to register in advance.

Schools are encouraged to hold in-school competitions as practice for regional and state competitions. In some cases, in-school competition may be required to narrow down which teams will compete in regional competitions. Up to two teams per school may compete in a regional competition.

To promote wider participation across the state, we limit each school to only one entry in the state competition. In cases where there are not eight distinct schools participating in the state finals, we will extend invitations to second teams based on their rankings at the regional qualifier.

The winning high school class has the opportunity to represent Virginia at the We the People National Finals in April. Occasionally, Virginia is invited to also send a wildcard team, which is typically the 2nd place team from States. 

Any middle school team who competed at the State Finals is welcome to sign up to compete at the We the People National Invitational in April. Teams do not have to have won the state competition to qualify.

There is never a fee for students to register to compete at a regional or state competition in Virginia.

Classes who advance to national competitions will need to fundraise for the trip to northern Virginia, usually organized by WorldStrides in coordination with the Center for Civic Education. VA Civics is not involved in the planning for national competitions.

The Questions

Students compete using a pre-determined list of questions, usually distributed by the Center for Civic Education in late August each year.


We rely on volunteers to serve as judges, facilitators, and timers.

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