The Maryland Chamber Foundation hosted the pilot National Civics Bee, sponsored in Maryland by Amazon, on May 7th at Bowie State University, where ten middle school students competed in a quiz-style event to test their civics knowledge. Michael A., an eighth grader from Franklin Middle School in Baltimore County, walked away with the first-place prize: a trophy, a check for $1,000 and a new laptop. Second place was awarded to Gianna S., a homeschooled 6th grader from Prince George’s County, and third place went to Jacqueline N., an eighth grader at Redland Middle School in Montgomery County. The top three students won cash prizes, and all ten finalists were awarded laptops for their impressive efforts.
The ten finalists were selected from a pool of 101 students who submitted 500-word civics-themed essays in the first round of competition. Families, friends and supporters packed the theater at Bowie State University on May 7th to cheer on the students in the final round of competition. The Maryland Chamber Foundation welcomed Clarence Crawford, president of the Maryland State Board of Education; Delegate Anne Kaiser, Representative of District 14 in the Maryland House of Delegates; and Deborah Phelps, executive director of The Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools to serve as judges for the live competition.
“With the National Civics Bee, we aimed to spark an interest in democracy for young Marylanders through learning how to solve community issues via civic engagement,” said Whitney Harmel, executive director of the Maryland Chamber Foundation and executive vice president of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce. “Our finalists impressed us all with their knowledge of government and the civic process. We were thrilled with the result of this first year of the program and know that through this and other avenues to teach young people how to engage productively with their government and communities, we are creating the next generation of leaders in Maryland and in our nation.”
In February, The Maryland Chamber Foundation announced the launch of the 2022 National Civics Bee, an initiative aimed at encouraging more young Americans to engage in civics and contribute to their communities. The event was one of six pilot programs organized by The Civic Trust of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. The competition challenged middle schoolers to become better informed about American democracy, to engage respectfully and constructively in the public square and to build greater trust in others and institutions.