Maya Angelou Public Charter School Wins 2013 “We the People” Constitution Challenge

June 7, 2013

Principal Geddis and Social Studies Chair Gerald Duncan accept the $1000 award given by the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation

The U.S. Capitol Historical Society and the We the People Consortium are happy to announce that Maya Angelou Public Charter School is the winner of the 4th annual We the People Constitution Challenge.  This competition is open to those Washington, D.C. middle schools that took the We the People Constitution Tour during the 2012-13 school year.  The tour is for 8th grade public and public charter school students in the District and is centered on the U.S. Constitution and its three branches.  Sites visited are the U.S. Capitol, Lafayette Park, the Lincoln Memorial, the Supreme Court and the National Archives, where students view the Constitution that they have spent the day discussing.   The Constitution Challenge is a contest where teachers have the chance to show us what activities they have continued to do throughout the school year with their students to further reinforce what they learned about the Constitution on the tour.  Eleven schools participated in the Challenge this year.

The Challenge Review Committee was impressed with the body of work submitted by MAPCS.  Teacher Gerald Duncan created thought-provoking opportunities for his students to get involved with and better understand the U.S. Constitution and our representative form of government. Students completed different types of activities, working both individually and in teams.  Among the activities were participation in the “We the People” The Citizen and the Constitution Simulated Congressional Hearing Citywide Competition; creation of a mock student government that mirrored a system of Federalism; playing the “State of Nature” game where students learn to collaborate and create rules in order to “survive;” and understanding the role of the executive branch through examples of “bosses” including their principal and a record label executive.

As winner, Maya Angelou PCS will receive a $1,000 award for educational resources provided through a special grant from the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation, as well as a plaque for the school and a special recognition for students and teachers.  Al Wallis, executive director of the Foundation, noted:  “Teachers in our nation’s capital daily instill an appreciation of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in their students so the students will be engaged, knowledgeable adults.  D.C. offers a perfect teaching environment to do this and we are pleased to be encouraging the teachers and students.”

Maya Angelou’s award presentation takes place on June 14 at the school’s promotion ceremony at Howard University.  Paul Public Charter School and Cesar Chavez PCS, Capitol Hill Campus, each received Honorable Mention plaques.

The We the People Constitution Challenge is sponsored by the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation.  Sponsors of the We the People Tour include the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Verizon, International Paper, and the Brown Rudnick Charitable Foundation.  The We the People Consortium that developed and conducts the tour includes: the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, the National Archives, the White House Historical Association, the National Park Service, the Federal Courts, Children’s Concierge, Old Town Trolley Tours, and IL Creations.  Since 2005, the program has reached more than 12,000 students and teachers in the District of Columbia.