2020 Wisconsin Civics Games registration to open Sept. 16

MADISON – Registration for the 2020 Wisconsin Civics Games will open on Monday, Sept. 16, at www.wisconsincivicsgames.com.

Regional competitions will be Friday, April 24, at University of Wisconsin campuses across the state. The two highest-scoring teams from each region will compete on Friday, May 15, at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison during the state finals.

After signing up to participate, teams will be sent study materials and resources to help prepare for the Civics Games. The deadline to sign up is Nov. 5.

Platteville teammates Civics Games
Alex Sonsalla (left) and Jacob Sherer of Platteville High School listen as Cory Forbes of Madison Memorial High School answers questions during the Wisconsin Civics Games State Finals Friday, March 29, at the State Capitol in Madison. (Julia Hunter photo)

Members of the winning team will again receive $2,000 scholarships to the Wisconsin college or university of their choice.

The inaugural Wisconsin Civics Games — held earlier this year— drew more than 100 students from 25 schools across the state. Platteville High School students Jacob Sherer, Spencer Olds, Alex Sonsalla and Liam Reinicke were named the first-ever champions of the competition.

The Civics Games were launched by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation in response to declining civics education and participation in civic affairs.

A survey, conducted in August by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that only two in five American adults can correctly name the three branches of government. It showed that people who took high school civics — as well as those who were greater consumers of news — were more likely to know the answers to six key civics questions, including naming the branches of government.

“We’ve spent a lot of time, as a time as nation, getting students ready for STEM, but one of our schools’ most important duties is to prepare the next generation to be good citizens, and the Civics Games can play a role in that,” said WNA Foundation President Scott Peterson, editor of the Watertown Daily Times. “This is so important for the future of our nation, to educate our kids about our democracy and get them engaged.”

WNA Foundation Board Member Eve Galanter, who spearheaded the effort to launch the Wisconsin Civics Games, receives a standing ovation at the state finals on Friday, March 29, at the State Capitol in Madison. (Julia Hunter photo)

A lack of knowledge in civic affairs makes individuals less likely to be active, engaged citizens — a trend that has been echoed in Wisconsin. In 2017, three in five Wisconsin municipalities reported an average of 1 or fewer candidates for each village board or city council seat, according to the 2018 State of Wisconsin’s Cities and Villages, a report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities.

“Serving as a judge, I was able to see how effective this competition is at motivating young people to be civically engaged,” said state Rep. Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City). “It was extremely rewarding to be a part of an event that involves so many passionate and energized competitors that truly care about the world around them.”

In addition to serving as judges, several local and state officials, as well as newspaper representatives, addressed the students at regional and final competitions.

“The students wowed me with their interest, preparation, and civics knowledge, and it was clear the experience was invaluable to all who participated,” said state Rep. Lisa Subeck (D-Madison). “Most importantly, the Civics Games works to elevate the importance of civics knowledge and civic participation among young people in Wisconsin, as I witnessed firsthand while serving as a judge for the Games.”

Additional information about the Games, including study tips, information about hosting a school-level competition, official rules and sample questions can be found at www.wisconsincivicsgames.com.

Those interested in volunteering to help with the games or providing support through a donation or sponsorship can also find more information on the Civics Games website.

Sponsors of the 2020 Wisconsin Civics Games include the Wisconsin Counties Association, League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Evjue Foundation, Local Government Institute of Wisconsin and the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.

About the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation

The Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation is a not-for-profit organization created in 1980 to support programs that foster excellence in journalism, engage current and future newspaper leaders and invest in our communities. The foundation solicits, manages and disburses funds and other resources for the benefit of Wisconsin’s newspaper industry.