Matt Strannigan, state coordinator of the Wyoming We the People (WTP) Program, received the 2016 “Making Democracy Work” award given by the Wyoming League of Women Voters Sept. 7.
In Wyoming Supreme Court Chambers state and local dignitaries lauded Strannigan for growing civics education in the state.
Wyoming LWV President Amy Williamson said, “What Matt has done with WTP gets to the core of the LWV’s Making Democracy Work Award and supports the reason we exist.”
Secretary of State Ed Murray who congratulated him for his efforts to encourage high school students to become the best citizens possible. Murray noted that the voter turnout rate for Wyoming young people ages 18 to 24 is just 10%; on the other hand, 92% of students who complete the WTP program vote.
The “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution” program was created to commemorate the framing and adoption of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights and to revitalize education programs in the nation’s schools.
Students prepare for competitive hearings by completing an instructional program using the text We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution. Team members become experts on areas of the constitution and “testify” before a panel of judges, legal scholars, justices, lawyers, and civic and community leaders. Students learn a reasoned commitment in the constitutional values of American democracy and to foster both civic competence and civic responsibility.
Sheridan High School won the state competition in January 2016 and represented Wyoming in the National WTP competition in May.
The Cheyenne league nominated Strannigan for the award, praising his efforts to promote the WTP program statewide, resulting in a record number of high school students involved in the program in 2015-2016, and his dedication to establishing permanent funding for the civics education in Wyoming that will benefit high school teachers.
In accepting the award, Strannigan thanked LWV and spoke about the impact the program has had on students and teachers throughout the state. He said the WTP program brings out the best in both students and teachers. “It incorporates authentic performance assessment of learning. . . . The end goal is to promote and develop a citizenry that is informed about their republic and the importance of participating as member citizens.”
Mary Garland, Ellbogen Foundation; William U. Hill, Wyoming Supreme Court, and Dick Kean, Wyoming History Day coordinator also spoke.