Constitution Team Wins Regionals


They have been working for nine months putting in over 1000 hours, reading endless documents about current issues, and after taking first place in the regional competition, the Constitution team advances to state on Jan. 25 at the Mark Hatfield Federal Courthouse.

During competition, three judges sit in front of six individuals from the team called a “unit.” Each team has six units that deal with different aspects of the Constitution and the history behind it. Four minutes of prepared responses are presented to the judges who then ask 10 minutes of follow-up questions based on what was said in the prepared responses.

“Historically, what were the experiences that led American colonists to believe that an imbalance of power among the different branches of government would lead to tyranny?”  asked one judge of Unit 2. “William Burke, the governor of Virginia in 1676, was a major reason for why the executive is not a part of the Articles of Confederation, and why there’s only a legislative and judicial branch. He had a tyrannical rule over the Virginian citizens and caused the Nathaniel Bacon’s rebellion of 1676,” responded Brendan Carey, senior. “Even though I was nervous, after I said that, I felt very confident and in control throughout the presentation,” he said.

“Going into competition I was really nervous, but I knew we could win because we had worked so hard for months,” Ben Hofmann, sophomore, said. “All of our work paid off, and I feel ready for state.” Lincoln competed against 10 other teams divided up into different regions separated by the west and east sides of Portland. Division A included Lake Oswego, Lakeridge, Lincoln, Wilson, and DeLaSalle. Division B had Central Catholic, Franklin, defending national champions Grant, Parkrose, Madison, and a second Parkrose team.

Lincoln’s 2012 team won the national competition, repeating history from other national victories in 1990, ’91, and ’96. In addition, there have been 26 district championships, one regional championship, 17 state titles, and 15 top-10 national finalists. The competition began in 1987.

In regionals two teams from each division including a wildcard were chosen by judges to go to state after each unit from every team presented. Joining Lincoln at state from Division A is Lake Oswego. Of division B, Grant took first place and Franklin took second. Central Catholic won the wildcard pick.

In the past, Lincoln has normally competed with Grant, Lake Oswego, Franklin, and Oregon City. But this year the Classroom Law Project, sponsor of the competition, moved to a new format with two different regions. “They switched from the traditional competition based on Congressional districts in 2012 because if they used the Congressional districts to determine who competed against each other, Lincoln would go up against Grant in the first competition as the Lincoln campus was redrawn into the Third Congressional District by the state legislature,” said Unit Two coach Jason Trombley. The new arrangement posed new threats to Lincoln’s chances of getting to the state competition, because only two teams from each division would make it to state and more were added. But, that did not stop this year’s team from once again shining in competition.

“They have shown a tremendous amount of commitment, and a lot of enthusiasm, and brought excitement to the competition tonight,” said head coach Tim Swinehart. “They have been really supportive of each other, and with all the stress approaching to competition and constructive criticism from the other coaches, they have worked together as a team and have given each other that support which is vital to doing well in competition.” In addition, after Unit Two members presented their knowledge, one of the judges, Todd Lyon, who is also in private practice for Barron Leibman, a labor and employment law firm said, “I loved your opening remarks, I enjoyed the conversational tone that you were able to bring, and it felt like a comfortable conversation as opposed to too rehearsed.”

With much more work to come in preparation for state, win or lose, team members will take away an experience that will be remembered for the rest of their lives. “They know the rewards they get from this program are bigger than getting first place in a competition,” Swinehart said. “There are life long lessons they will take with them, and winning is just icing on the cake.”


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