For the second year in a row, Centennial High School won the We the People regional championship, which was held Saturday at Golden Valley High School. The northwest Bakersfield school will go on to represent Kern County at a state competition to be held in Bakersfield in February.
Arvin High School was the second runner up. Centennial and Arvin are longtime rivals that trade a perpetual trophy back and forth.
We The People is an annual competition that tests student knowledge of government and the United States Constitution. About 300 students from nine schools participated this year.
Centennial has won the regional title five times in 11 years. The reigning champs were euphoric about being able to keep the rotating trophy on campus.
"I'm so excited!" said a beaming Amy Delmore, 17, as she and classmates celebrated onstage. "This is all I've wanted for months!"
Nearby, Arvin students hugged and consoled one another, a few reduced to tears.
"We're a little disappointed," said Daniela Guerrero, 17, in a shaky voice. "But second place is still good. I'm proud of my unit. It's better than not placing at all."
Arvin could still compete at state. Sometimes regions don't send representatives there, leaving wild card openings for teams with high runner-up scores.
In We The People, teams present testimony in two rounds of six mock congressional hearings. Congressional committees composed of community scholars and civic leaders pose one of three study questions to the students prior to the competition.
Each team is allowed four minutes to present testimony. Then, for an additional six minutes, teams answer questions from judges about constitutional issues raised by events in history.
The combined totals of all six team units determines the winner.
Centennial Coach Ryan Coleman is an alumni of the contest who as a teenager competed for East High School.
He said We The People is a great intellectual exercise for young people.
"This is one of the best education programs in the country because they show their constitutional knowledge, but more importantly, they illustrate how to apply that knowledge to our world today," Coleman said.