How Comp Civics prepares for their state competition

Unit+1+poses+after+the+mock+competition+held+in+Amadors+library.

Yi (Steven) Yang

Unit 1 poses after the mock competition held in Amador’s library.

On Feb. 4, 2023, Amador’s Competition Civics class will be competing at California’s annual state civics competition. In previous years, the class has won first place at this competition, and will be aiming for first place again to earn their spot at the national competition.

“[Comp Civics] is a group of students who study the Constitution in great depth. Through a lot of hard work and a lot of practice, they really learn quite a bit of detail, and we prepare to compete in regional, state, and national competitions,” said AV Comp Civics Teacher Stacey Sklar.  

Amador’s Comp Civics team has a reputation for being one of the strongest teams in the country, qualifying for nationals six times in the past. Although preparing for states involves lots of work, it also gives the class a chance to bond over achieving a common goal. 

“They get along well with each other, which is going to help them a great deal in terms of working together. They’re earnest and hard-working, and they have the drive to win,” said Sklar. 

Split into groups of six units, each individual team member spends 20-30 hours with their unit outside of school to practice everyday. Although the class uses the same strategies from previous years to prepare for states, they always update their testimony to incorporate current events happening in politics. 

“What really changes each year is the body of knowledge as  the Constitution is a living document. Cases are always being decided by the Supreme Court, new laws are being passed by Congress, and so we have to adapt our learning to encapsulate all of those changes,” said Sklar

To prepare for states, the class prioritizes understanding the foundations of the American government, as well as its legislation. Students spend time over the summer and during class hours to conduct mock testimonies and  mimic a competition setting. 

“We’ve been researching a lot. Every single day, we’ve been researching for at least one or two hours. My unit calls at least five times a week and we meet in person a lot to practice questions and answering,” said Eva Raul (‘23)

In addition to researching current legislation, students also take information for their testimony from primary sources. The team’s goal focuses on understanding the material beyond a superficial level, using literature and documents to enhance their testimony. Not only do the students research legislation, but also read philosophical and political published works. 

“There are some books we read that are about presidencies or about philosophy. I’m reading Leviathan by Hobbes right now and I have a hard copy of that book. Although it’s really time consuming having to spend at least five hours a day researching and just getting better at civics, I think it’s great, cause then you have a close knit group of people,” said Raul