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River Bluff High School of Lexington and Palmetto Academy of Learning and Success of Myrtle Beach won the South Carolina Bar’s We the People competition held virtually on December 9. 

Led by teacher coach Linsy Dooley, the River Bluff High School team brought home its impressive fifth high school state championship. 

“The We the People competition is an invaluable experience for my students,” Dooley said. “Not only do they learn about content including the Constitution, U.S. History, American government, and foreign policy, but the skills they learn throughout the process of preparing for and competing in this event are unparalleled.” 

Teacher coach BJ DeCerbo, who is the current SC Bar Law Related Education (LRE) middle school teacher of the year, led Palmetto Academy to its second consecutive middle school championship. 

“My students that have participated in the competition have left with a richer sense of who they are politically as well as being better educated about issues in the United States and around the world,” Decerbo said. 

The first runner up for the high school division was Wilson Hall High School of Sumter led by teacher coach Tom O’Hare. Dooley and O’Hare are both prior high school LRE teacher of the year award recipients. 

The goal of the competition is to increase education of the Constitution for students in South Carolina and across the country. Students demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles and have opportunities to evaluate, take and defend positions on relevant historical and contemporary issues. Volunteer attorneys throughout the state help judge the day-long simulated congressional hearing in which students "testify" before a panel of judges. 

Susan Hackett has been an attorney volunteer for five years and spoke highly about her experience. 

“I decided to volunteer for the We the People competition because I have enjoyed participating with the LRE Committee’s Mock Trial program and I knew the caliber of the competition would be just as high,” Hackett said. “I love the opportunity the competition allows to interact with students on the subject of our democracy. The students work hard all semester to show their understanding of the Constitution, and it shows. I always leave the competition feeling refreshed and relieved that our democracy is in good hands with the next generation.”

The We the People program is sponsored by the SC Bar’s LRE Division, which was developed in 1976 to improve the ability of teachers to instruct law related education. The program is supported by the Bar’s LRE Committee and made possible through a SC Bar Foundation Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts grant and the SC Bar.

Interested in getting involved with other LRE Division events?  There’s still time to volunteer as an attorney coach or judge for the virtual 2022 High School Mock Trial competitions! Sign up to help with the program and earn pro bono hours while you’re at it.