High schools across the state will compete next semester in a new civics contest being sponsored by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association to encourage young people to participate in local and state politics.

Teams of up to four students within Wisconsin high schools will compete in the Wisconsin Civics Games tournament, beginning in January with a culminating final of 14 teams from seven regions facing off in the Wisconsin State Capitol.

Eve Galanter, a WNA Foundation board member and former Madison City Council member, said she hopes the energy of team competition will get students excited about engaging in the political process.

“I want our students to feel as passionate about public service as I do,” Galanter said in a statement.

Young adults, year after year, vote at lower rates than older adults, and a 2010 study by the National Assessment of Educational Progress found that less than a quarter of all 12th-graders were at or above proficient in civics education.

Students will work with their history, government, social studies or civics teacher to prepare for the competitions. They will use a study guide that will be distributed to teachers.

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Teams from participating high schools will first compete against each other during the week of Jan. 10, with one team from each high school advancing to regionals.

Schools in each of the seven regions will then face off during the week of Feb. 2, with the top two teams advancing.

The statewide championship will be Feb. 23 at the State Capitol.

WNA Executive Director Beth Bennett said newspapers will be sponsors for high schools competing in the games because newspapers have long been a vital source of information for the public on local government to spark conversations.

“We hope the Civics Games will build on that important mission by empowering and encouraging young men and women across Wisconsin to become engaged with government on a local and statewide level,” Bennett said.

Sponsoring newspapers will also be highlighting articles that provide real-life and local examples of the political process and how it affects the community.

Capital W: Plug in to Wisconsin politics

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