TIFFIN— At 8:30 a.m. on a Monday morning, a bell rings. Fourteen Clear Creek Amana (CCA) high school students filter in to a classroom for immersion in the government of the United States of America.
And they want to be there.
The class is Jason Goslin’s AP U.S. Government, a social studies offering that goes beyond the basic regurgitation of how many senators and representatives there are; it also featured a full semester on the United States Constitution. Goslin attended a conference at historic Montpelier, James Madison’s estate in Orange County, Va. He was sent as an Iowa State Scholarship Teacher to learn about a new curriculum: “We the People,” which takes an in-depth look at the Constitution.
“It was a great opportunity,” Goslin said of the seminar and the curriculum. Principal Mark Moody approved its implementation during the first semester of the current school year. The non-partisan curriculum looks not only at the specific articles of the Constitution, but how they were developed and what effects they have had in the course of history. Goslin notes the curriculum is rooted in project based learning, is hands-on and incorporates group work and presentation skills, all tenets of the Iowa Core Curriculum CCA implements.
“I wanted a more in-depth class,” student Jacob Kostiv-Hulme said when asked why he signed up for the class. “I enjoy learning about our government, and I’ve learned more this way than in any other (government) class.” When asked what he has learned, Kostiv-Hulme said, “The government has come a long way since it was founded, but some things could be changed.”
Hannah Gott, a self-described libertarian, said she “wanted to be a more informed citizen while being challenged.” Gott said the curriculum has strengthened her political views, and even changed some. Brenna Bormann said she loves government and politics and that the class gives her history and backing for her political positions.
“You just learn everything there is about the Constitution,” said Mia Kuehn. “If it’s in there, we know about it.”
In addition to learning the historic document inside and out, the class also applies it to current events, which are then discussed and debated in the classroom.
The hard work and interest shown by the class led to a 2011-2012 State Championship in “We the People” competition in November held at Iowa City West High. The team answered a Constitution-based question with a four-minute written response, followed by a six-minute question-and-answer session. Winning the state competition earned the group the right to compete at the National Competition at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. The competition will be held April 26 through May 2 and will also include tours of historic sites in and around Washington, DC.
In addition to preparing for this competition, the students also have the challenge of raising $27,000, in order to fund the trip. As of Jan. 9 nearly $7,000 had been raised. Numerous fundraisers are in the works including singing telegrams, a fun run, petting zoo, movie night and perhaps even a lock-in at the high school.
To make a donation, contact Mr. Goslin at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website at www.mrgoslin.com. Checks may be sent to CCA High School, ATTN: Mr. Goslin, P.O. Box 199, Tiffin, IA 52340-0199.
“We try really hard to deserve this,” said Jenna Abel. “We’ll make you proud.”