Delaware Chamber to host regional civics competition

Oct. 26—Area middle school students will have the opportunity to compete in the National Civics Bee during the 2023-24 school year.

The Delaware County Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to offer the competition, a media release said. The Delaware chamber will oversee the regional competition, which is open to any student in grades six, seven and eight in the area, not just Delaware County residents, Chamber President Ray Pucci said.

Pucci said the chamber hosted a strategic planning session three years ago and met with and talked with people in the community to find out what their concerns were. He said Matt Steen from the Margaretville Telephone Company and a chamber member said they were experiencing workforce issues because the employees were not invested in what was happening in the community. An employee who is engaged in the community will stay at the company longer, he said.

"Ever since Matt said that, we have been looking for ways to get people engaged with the community," Pucci said. They found the U.S. chamber's National Civics Bee and saw New York state didn't have anyone participating in it. Pucci contacted the organizer and received the materials. "Twenty states have signed up," he said. "We're the first local chamber to sign up."

The National Civics Bee is a competition that encourages young Americans to engage in civics and contribute to their communities, the release said. There are resources for educators including a teacher guide, to introduce the opportunity to their students. The competition enables students to explore issues that matter to their communities, furthering their understanding of civic engagement and fostering responsible citizenship.

Students will be asked to write a 500-word essay about what they think is a problem affecting in their community and write a solution as how to fix the problem, using their civics knowledge. The essays will be judged based on objective scoring by a panel of 11 judges. Students can start entering their essays online Nov. 13. The portal will close in January.

The top 20 essayists will compete in the regional competition, which will be held in Okun Theater at SUNY Delhi March 9, 2024. The top three students will compete at the state level and also receive prize money — $500 for first place, $250 for second and $125 for third.

"I can't wait to see what middle schoolers come up with," he said. "It will be good to learn what they see as problems and their solutions."

More information, including student and teacher resources and an online portal for essay submission, is available under the Event and Programs tab at

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at or 607-441-7221.