The 2020 National Constitution Bee Grand Champion Declared


BRENTWOOD, Tennessee – This year’s annual National Constitution Bee Grand Champion was senior high school student Jackson Carter. He received the $10,000 educational scholarship from the Star News Education Foundation. Carter plans on attending the University of Alabama, where he hopes to double major in communications studies and economics.

The event took place at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott in Brentwood, Tennessee. 23 students ranging from eighth to twelfth grade arrived to compete. The Tennessee Star Report host and Guide to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights for Secondary Students co-author Michael Leahy served as the emcee.

The two judges were Guide to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights for Secondary Students co-author Claudia Henneberry and Memphis Tea Party Founder and Chairman Mark Skoda.

Normally, the Constitution Bee is a series of competitions held in various states and culminating in the final competition for Grand Champion. Due to the pandemic, all Round One State-level Constitution Bees were canceled.

Although this year’s competition was consolidated into a single competition, some students traveled as far from Illinois and Michigan to vie for the Grand Champion title and $10,000 scholarship.

Questions for the event were based on the Star News Education Foundation’s Guide to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights for Secondary Students. The book is available for purchase on their educational website. Supplemental podcast recordings are also available.

Prior to the main competition, students warmed up with The Preamble Challenge. Honorary awards were given for most creative, most entertaining, and most persuasive performances of the Preamble to the Constitution. Featured presentations included raps, orations, songs, and even magic tricks.

After, students competed in several rounds of questions about the Constitution. Each round increased in difficulty. During one break, students and attendees received a Zoom call from prominent constitutional law scholar Alan Dershowitz.

Dershowitz stated that the Constitution is both a living and a dead document. He also discussed the Constitution’s design for the electoral college, and questioned the constitutionality of state laws circumventing the electoral college to achieve popular vote outcomes.

Afterwards, students had the opportunity to ask questions. Two questions that arose were the negative impacts of lifelong appointments of justices, and Dershowitz’s experience defending President Trump during the impeachment trials.

Several rounds later, only 11 students remained; the competition moved on to an essay portion. Students were assigned various questions and given fifteen minutes to write and present a three-minute speech. Topics included the electoral ballot and the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett.

Judges selected the remaining three contestants from presentations of essay responses.

The event concluded with the three finalists answering a randomized set of questions on the Constitution. There, Carter earned his Grand Champion title. Carter told The Tennessee Star that he learned about the competition through scholarship research. The annual Constitution Bee piqued his interest because of his interest in politics.

“I super appreciate the Star News for putting this on. They’re doing a lot of good. It was an experience I’ll never forget. For anyone who wants to join or try the competition: don’t hesitate. Go get you a copy of that book and read up!”

Second place went to high school freshman Gianna Ross. She received a $5,000 educational scholarship. Ross shared with The Star that she’d heard about the competition through The Tennessee Star Report on the way home from school. She hopes to attend a college on the West Coast with her best friend.

Third place went to high school sophomore Alea VanDeVelde. She received a $2,500 educational scholarship, and expressed a desire to attend Liberty University in Virginia.

“It was so much fun, being able to look forward to competing. We’ve been here a week, and made a vacation out of it!”

The remaining competitors were Kyu Carlo Alegre, Linda Kingma, Clyde Kelly, Noah Raby, Reese Avery, Kyle Brukl, Fairlight Atkins, Annalise Wade, Daniel Teayes, Blake Cragen, William Guynn, Shane Tanner, William Chase Mathis, Grace Estes, Nathan Shepperd, Madalene Sisemore, Joseph Semler, Sloan Hoesel, Allison Hoesel, and Benjamin Barry.

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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].








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