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The St. Joseph-Ogden High School civics class is still raising money for their trip next month to Washington, D.C.
The class is traveling to the nation’s capital for the “We the People,” competition, slated to be held from April 21-25, and 20 students have taken part in fundraising efforts.
They have sent letters to local businesses asking for donations, set up a Go Fund Me page online and are holding several fundraising events.
The fundraisers include a trivia night and silent auction that will take place on March 17 at SJO.
The silent auction will include different gift baskets and gift certificates for everything from photography to tutoring.
Christina Gherna, parent of civics student Lauren Gherna, is organizing the silent auction and said they have a good variety of items including a $100 gift certificate to Hamilton Walkers, a donation by Carle Sports Medicine Acceleration worth $370, a gift basket with a tent and a deer mount, a Chicago Cubs’ “W” LED Flag and a donation from Parkland College for Kids for $180.
“People should attend because it is supporting these students who are sure to make a positive impact and are sure to represent the St. Joseph-Ogden community well,” Gherna said. “They deserve the opportunity to make this trip to D.C. in April. “
The event will start at 5:30 p.m. and costs $20 per person or $100 for a table of six. The cost includes a pasta dinner and trivia game. Civics class teacher Marshall Schacht is creating most of the questions for trivia night.
“While they have a government-theme, there will be sports, movies and music throughout the categories,” he said. “You must have a well-rounded group to win the night.”
Student Mckala Lindsey is helping create the questions.
“Coming up with questions for trivia night has been a difficult task,” she said. “Not many people have an extensive knowledge about all things civics related so it takes a while to find the balance between things that are fun for everyone but also things that people will know. We wanted to keep it government-based because it is, after all, for our civics team but we also wanted to keep the questions engaging.”
Lindsey said she hopes the community supports the fundraiser on March 17.
“People should attend trivia night because there is a little something for everyone,” she said. “There will be delicious food, fun trivia and we have some pretty great silent auction items.”
Lindsey said she hopes people aren’t hesitant to attend the event due to the trivia aspects.
“We are trying to keep the questions light and engaging so there is a little bit for everyone, even if they don’t have a lot of civics background,” she said. “Also, it is a wonderful opportunity for people to grow their knowledge and learn a few new things while also eating delicious food.”
Lindsey said the community has been very supportive of the group’s fundraising efforts so far.
“I personally am very thankful for all the people and businesses who have helped us or who have contributed to our fundraising in some way,” she said. “I know the amount of fundraising that we are doing can be a bit daunting but people are taking it in stride and they are so kind and have a willingness to help that is simply amazing. We have a wonderful community that rallies together to help the youth in so many ways and the students could not be more thankful. I was worried at first about being able to afford the trip, but the town has really showed its support and has made this a tangible opportunity for both my peers and me.”
The trip is possible because the team placed second in the “We the People: Citizen and the Constitution” Illinois state finals in Chicago in order to qualify for the national finals.
During the national finals, the students will participate in simulated congressional hearings. Students will testify as constitutional experts before panels of judges acting as congressional committees. The students will be scored through a performance based assessment. The hearings will start with a four-minute opening statement by students and is followed by a six-minute period of follow-up questioning by the judges which will test the student’s depth of knowledge, understanding and their ability to apply constitutional principles
“The cost of the trip to the national finals is estimated to be more than
$1,500 per student,” Schacht said. “Our school cannot fund the trip as no money has been set aside for such surprise expenses. The members of my competition team are all seniors, and their families are preparing for college expenses looming in the near future. In many cases, my students have conveyed that they will not be able to cover the cost.”
The trip would include more than the competition. Students could visit Embassy Row, the National Zoo, the Smithsonian and numerous monuments and historical locations in Washington, D.C.
Lindsey said she is excited to see everything Washington, D.C has to offer.
“I have never been to Washington, D.C. before, and I think that it will be amazing to have the chance to see it,” she said. “This is truly a once in-a-lifetime opportunity that I never could have imagined and now that it is happening I am equally thankful and excited. We are approaching the date fast and as we get closer and closer to when we depart for D.C., I become more and more excited. I finally get my chance to go, and it is in none other than Washington, D.C.”
Schacht said he is proud of all his students have accomplished.
“This competition has revealed so much more about them in my eyes,” he said. “They are eager to use their talents to be heard and to change the world for the better.”
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