State Winner Kahuku Aiming For ‘We the People’ Nationals

Kahuku High social studies teacher Jan Harney (back, second from left) and her team after their recent triumph at the state competition for 'We The People.' The group now is raising funds to pay for a trip to represent Hawaii in April at the national finals in Washington, D.C. Photo from Dara Young.

The Red Raiders know their Constitution as well as they know their sports. Now they need cash.

The Kahuku High team won the Hawaii We the People competition for the second straight year, and has launched its fundraising drive to send all 15 students to the national finals April 26-29 in Washington, D.C.

“I love the program,” said state coordinator Sandra Cashman, who helped soccial studies teacher Jan Harney coach the Kahuku teens. “I’ve seen the impact that it has on students as they prepare for their responsibilities as citizens in our constitutional democracy.”

Funny thing about our democracy though, the travel fund was cut from the Congressional budget this year, and the price tag per student is about $2,000.

The drive starts with a Zumba night from 5:30 to 7 p.m Thursday in the school gym. Admission is $7 in advance at the school office or $10 at the door. On Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon, there’s a silent auction in Sunset Beach Elementary cafeteria with many items for supporters to bid on. Checks made out to the school, memo “We the People,” also are welcome and can be mailed to KHS at 57-490 Kamehameha Hwy., Kahuku, HI 96731.

Designed to promote civic competence and responsibility, We the People requires serious study time and practice from those involved, as topics cover the historical and philosophical basis of the Constitution and its evolution throughout history, with applications to current issues. Harney, a four-year veteran of the program, has seen all of her students through their preparations – textbook studies, extensive research and preparation of four-minute essays to be read to judges, followed by six minutes of questions from them.

“It develops critical thinking, speaking, researching and team-building skills that they’ll use throughout their lives,” she explained.

Members are seniors Saga Beus, Jonah Cabiles, Chris Cornelison, Marc Duke, Jazmine Emerson, Demetrius Jones-Shargani, Becky LaPenes, Jasmine Lopez, Spencer McCarrey, Ben Morelock, Wesley Piena, Destrey Runyon, Alena Smith, Angela delRey and Chenoa Yorgason (the only junior).