Civics Bee

Civics Bee Team Prep

In its first time competing in the League of Women Voters Civics Bee, the Concord-Carlisle team pulled out a last-minute win to defeat four-time defending champion Wayland by 10 points.

The final scores in the Civics Bee, held Sunday at Weston High School, were Concord-Carlisle, 960; Wayland, 950; Sudbury, 935; and Weston, 895.

Wayland led for much of the contest, and Sudbury picked up points to move into second place after a lightning round of questions where teams not only received points for the correct answer, but lost points for jumping in too quickly with a wrong answer.

Concord-Carlisle responded strongly in the final round of questions, on this year’s Bill of Rights theme, however, to pull out the 10-point win.

One question, in the section on the judicial branch, puzzled all of the contestants and the audience as well.  No one knew that the largest number of justices to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court at one time was 10 justices. 

This was the eleventh annual Civics Bee sponsored by the Leagues of Women Voters in the four towns; Concord-Carlisle was participating for the first time this year.  The Bee was supported in part by a grant from the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts Citizen Education Fund. The Civics Bee teams are composed of middle school students, high school students and adults from each town.

With four teams, the Bee format was changed this year so that all four teams answered the same questions at the same time, writing their answers and holding them up.

Susan Frey, Concord-Carlisle League coordinator for that team said, “It’s not easy to start a new tradition about democracy in Concord.  This wonderful team studied hard and worked well together.” She also noted this first-year team felt that they were “breaking ground” and laying the foundation for future teams.

Dan Kerrigan, a Lincoln-Sudbury high school senior and a coach of the Sudbury team, has been participating in the Civics Bee since eighth grade. He noted he knew the kinds of questions to expect and that knowing court cases was important.

“I don’t think that I would sit down and study for 5 or 6 hours,” Kerrigan said, but being involved for all of these years gave him the competitive edge of experience.

Lisa Kouchakdjian, an adult on the Sudbury team and Sudbury Public Schools School Committee chair, said, “I am just so incredibly proud of all these kids. Kids are the foundation of public education, and civics is the foundation of our country.  The future of America is bright when you have young people getting involved.”

Weston High School history teacher and coach Kerry Dunne said that the team used a range of AP government materials to prepare. “Our Achilles heel was the local government round,” she said.

The Bee Master, or moderator, was Jo-Ann Berry of the Acton Area League.

Erik Owens, an associate professor at Boston College, was the judge.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization which encourages informed and active participation in government and works to increase understanding of major public policy issues.

By Nancy Brumback and Nell Forgacs