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We the People

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Politics and civil commentary with community columnist John Eyster.

John W. Eyster: Judging the Academic Decathlon

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By John W. Eyster
Monday, May 15, 2017

Take confidence in our future! I've frequently expressed my concern that the spotlight focuses on youth who are having problems with life. I want to shine the spotlight on young citizens who are healthy persons maturing to healthy adulthood as U.S. citizens. Within the last month, I've had the privilege of serving as a judge for two OUTstanding programs serving our youth: (1) U.S. Academic Decathlon - National competition and (2) Project Citizen with WI state competition both were in Madison.

I've judged for the U.S. Academic Decathlon – WI for several years so I was excited to judge for nationals. Since the nationals rotate among the states, I assume this was my one and only opportunity to judge nationals. The nationals have not only the state winner from each of the States, but several international teams.

The results of the 2017 nationals were:

Large school – Champion: El Camino Real Charter HS, CA. Highest scoring WI HS: #18 - Sun Prairie HS.

Medium school – Champion: Edgewood HS, CA. Highest scoring WI HS: #15 - Watertown HS.

Small school – BASIS Chandler, AZ. Highest scoring WI HS: #18 – Marathon HS.

You will learn a great deal about the U.S. Academic Decathlon from the official website, including: Team size. Events in the competition. Curriculum.

I've also judged for Project Citizen through many years. When I was teaching at Parker HS, Janesville, I served as the volunteer coordinator for Project Citizen for U.S. District #1. The project is designed for middle school students to choose a significant LOCAL public policy which they analyze and choose what they consider to be the optimal solution. With their solution outlined, the students develop a plan to advocate for the public policy they support. There are 4 panels in the team's presentation. You will learn a great deal about Project Citizen reading their official website.

Complementary programs have been developed by the Center for Civic Education headquartered in Calabasas, CA. You can learn about these democracy/civics education programs reading their official website.

My judge team and I had a very interesting and satisfying hearing presented by the Salam School, Milwaukee. Their public policy issue was problem of vehicles passing stopped school buses with red lights blinking and STOP arm outstretched. The frequency of driver's choosing to pass a stopped school bus was shocking! Having described the problem, the team proceeded to focus on a solution: Making the STOP arm 6 feet rather than the standard 2 foot arm. The longer STOP arm does stop vehicles from passing the stopped school bus. The case pointed out that this adjustment was the least expensive among alternatives.

In the current environment in our society, I think it's important to make sure you know that the Salam School is a Muslim school in Milwaukee. It's mission statement is: “By empowering our students to achieve Islamic and academic excellence. Salam School seeks to develop citizens who embody the spirit of Islam and strive to improve their society through faith, perseverance and service to others.” I submit that this school is a healthy example of Islam in our society. You may want to read the school's website.

The Salaam School tied for 2nd place in this year's Project Citizen state competition. The 1st place went to Glen Hills Middle School, Glendale. They will represent WI at the Project Citizen National Showcase on Wednesday & Thursday, July 19-20 at the National Headquarters in Calabasas, CA.

A key mission for me has been democracy/civics education. Very inspiring and encouraging to continue involvement with the democracy/civics education programs which serve our youth. Remember: Native born persons are CITIZENS of the US when BORN! There are rights and responsibilities come as the citizen matures, e.g., right to vote when 18, ability to seek election to our U.S. House when 25, ability to seek election to our U.S. Senate when 30, ability to seek election to U.S. President when 35. There is a maturation process for the citizens of our republic. I hope you are taking seriously YOUR rights and responsibilities as a U.S. CITIZEN – ARE YOU?

One day at a time, here we go…


John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor assigned with the online/distance education faculty of Viterbo University, LaCrosse. He continues his personal mission supporting democracy/civics education in Wisconsin K-12 schools through Project Citizen, We the People, Discovering Democracy (Milton HS). John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff or management.


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