Sign up to serve as a judge


Download a copy of the judge invitation here. File 2017-SCH-RSVP-revised jan2.docx



The congressional hearings take place from early May to mid-June. We are seeking government officials, school system personnel, community members and others who exemplify real-world applications of social studies instruction. This is a great opportunity for you to be involved in an inspiring and uplifting event that showcases what our students have learned. It would be an honor to have you participate.

This event is a performance assessment that culminates our fifth-graders' year of social studies instruction. Your role will be to listen to students, ask questions, and provide feedback. You do NOT need to be a constitutional scholar to be a great judge. It will be the students' job to teach you. We will provide all the training you need on the morning of the event. The civic participation of community members is critical to the success of the program.

You will have the pleasure of hearing four to five student groups present their expert testimonies.  Each group of judges will have a lead judge who will lead the group.

   Each hearing is divided into five parts.

  • Introductions
  • Students’ Prepared Presentations (4 minutes)
  • Follow-up Questions to the students – these questions will be given to you. (6 minutes)
  • Feedback (5-10 minutes)
  •  Closing – Shake hands and congratulate the “experts”

Each Simulated Congressional Hearing is a full-day event scheduled from approximately 8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m (schedules vary by school). For information about all elementary schools, including school profiles, addresses, and more, visit the elementary school overview page.

Judge Training Video

Feel free to view the Judge Training Video prior to volunteering OR arrive 15 minutes prior to the "official start" of the judge training at the school and we will show it then. This way, you can decide whether to watch the video ahead of time or to just arrive early for the training to watch the video with us.

Frequently Asked Questions for SCH Judges

What should I include on my nametag?

Your nametag should include your name and your current title, company, or responsibility. We will use this information to introduce you to the students during the opening ceremony. Examples of titles may include:

  • Lt. Denise Daily, Howard County Fire Department
  • Ms. Ann McLeary, Legislative Aide for Delegate Smith
  • Mr. Lloyd Johnson, Citizen

What if I can't attend at the last minute?

If circumstances arise at the last minute and you cannot make your scheduled hearing, please email Kimberly_Eggborn@hcpss.org or call 410-313-5678 to let us know.

What if I have special dietary restrictions?

Judges are encouraged to eat breakfast on the day of their scheduled hearing. Due to budgetary cuts, we can no longer provide breakfast. If your SCH is a full-day event, the school will provide lunch for you. If you have special dietary restrictions, please let us know at Kimberly_Eggborn@hcpss.org or call 410-313-5678.

What should I wear to the Simulated Congressional Hearing?

Most judges wear professional attire to the hearings. Some judges wear their uniforms such as members of the armed forces or  police department.  As a reminder, campaigning on school property is not allowed (see HCPSS Circular No. 59), therefore please do not wear clothing that suggests you are a candidate running for office or clothing that supports another candidate. Thank you for your understanding in this matter.

What should I expect from the roundtable discussion?

The roundtable discussion may be conducted in two formats:

  • A small group of students will engage with the judges in informal discussions, OR
  • The judges will travel to the students' classrooms. In this format, all of the students will have the opportunity to ask the judges questions.

Individual schools decide how their roundtable will run. The SCH facilitator will make sure to prepare you for the roundtable format on the day of your hearing.

Do I have to attend the closing ceremony?

Judges are strongly encouraged to attend the closing ceremony. The closing ceremony is an opportunity to celebrate the students. We understand, though, if you have other responsibilities that require you to miss the closing ceremony.

Where can I provide feedback?

We truly value your feedback. There will be a feedback form in the folder you receive on the day of your hearing. You're welcome to complete the form and give it to the representative from the Social Studies Office. You can also complete the online version of the feedback form.

Do I need to be an expert on the Constitution to judge?

You do not need to be a constitutional expert to be a judge. The judge training video in addition to the training you will receive on the day of the event will give you the information you need to be an effective judge. It is the students' responsibility to teach you about their Constitutional knowledge.

How can I get more involved with this program?

In addition to judges, schools also need coaches to help prepare students for their Simulated Congressional Hearings. If you are interested in this opportunity, please send us an email Kimberly_Eggborn@hcpss.org or call 410-313-5678. We will provide you will all of the training/resources you need.

Consider telling people about how effective this program is in helping our students become responsible and informed citizens. Your support as well as the support of the community is important to keep this program running.

Additional Resources for Judges

  • Access an electronic copy of the We The People textbook that the students use to prepare for the hearings.
    • Login: wtpjudge
    • Password: Y54i98t
  • Unit Questions are the questions students use to write their prepared testimony. The follow-ups are some of the questions that judges may ask during the follow-up question period.