The Civics Bowl program has two main goals: help high school students become informed and engaged citizens, fluent in the governing process, and through participation by watching, help families, friends and all KSPS viewers gain the information they need to fulfill their roles as citizens–information they may have missed in their own educations. Civics Bowl is produced in partnership with Spokane Public Schools, the League of Women Voters of the Spokane Area and KSPS PBS. Talks among the partners began a year before the 2022 pilot season was recorded in late April 2022. Spokane Public Schools civics, social studies and government teachers provided advice and a commitment to field teams for the project. SPS Social Studies Coordinator Susie Gerard agreed to serve as the judge. Volunteers from the League of Women Voters of the Spokane Area, headed by President Ann Murphy and LWVWA Board of Directors Civic Education Portfolio Chair Beth Pellicciotti, wrote some 600 questions sourced from texts and other curriculum resources used in SPS civics and government classes. LWV Volunteers also participated in rehearsals and dozens of planning meetings along the way.
Modeled loosely on the “High School Bowl” program of the ‘60s and ‘70s, the tournament pits teams of four students (plus an alternate) representing each participating high school against one another in half-hour contests televised on KSPS PBS and streamed online. Teams answer questions about national, state, tribal and regional governments and other topics related to high school-level study of civics and government. KSPS PBS ensured the tournament was fair, is practical for schools to manage, and that it truly leads to greater civic understanding for students and viewers. KSPS PBS has developed tournament structure, game format, general rules, code of conduct and even Covid-19 protocols that can easily be replicated by other media organizations.
The real stars of Civics Bowl are the students. Over 30 students from six schools competed in the KSPS PBS studios. To a person, they are bright, competent and polite young people, showing incredible patience during the many production delays. Even when arguing a point with our judges, (as they often did!) they were smart and poised. And their knowledge of civics and government was truly impressive! All of us who saw them compete over the two days were inspired and grateful in in the knowledge that our country’s future is in good hands.