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The 2nd Annual Buena Vista Civics Bee

Local Hosts

The Buena Vista Civics Bee is co-hosted by the Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters of Chaffee County. It is a nationwide competition organized by the United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation and hosted by state and local Chambers across the US!

In early 2024, middle school students were invited to submit essays about how they would solve a local problem of their choice. Local judges scored the essays through an anonymous judging platform. The top 20 finalists have been notified and will go on to the live local competition this spring. Winners then compete in the State Civics Bee Competition. Winners from the states go on to compete in the national competition in Washington, DC.

Civic Dialogue

We believe in the importance of creating a safe space to cultivate and celebrate the skills of civic dialogue. We honor the history of the democratic experiment and the importance of intergenerational conversation and action to ensure it continues. Democracy is messy, and fascinating and requires our participation in furtherance of the Constitution's invitation to create "a more perfect Union."

The BV Chamber of Commerce, The League of Women Voters of Chaffee County along with our Event Sponsors, The Ark Valley Voice, High Country Bank, First Colorado Land Office, Buena Vista Heritage, and Full Circle Real Estate Group are dedicated to supporting civic knowledge and dialogue in our community.

Student Essays & Live Competition

In January of each year, the essay competition opens. Middle school students are invited to identify a problem in their community and write about how they would solve that problem.

Any 6th, 7th, or 8th grade student residing in Colorado with an idea about using civics to improve their community may review the rules and submit an essay application on this page.

This year 77 students submitted essays for the Buena Vista local competition. They were observant, and heartbreaking, and wise, and well researched and we adults have to get better at solving the problems the kids are asking us to solve.

Congratulations to the 2024

Top 20 Finalists!

You'll be moving on to the

Live Civics Bee Competition!!!

Andee Quilico

Caden Courson

Cassandra Sandmeier

Daniel Young

Elizabeth Savoren

Emmett Hachmann

Eva Montgomery

Faith Ruggeri

Joseph Drexler

Kaia Rasmussen

Mai Ly Sanderson

Max Saltzman

Olivia Bearss

Olivia Rasmussen

Ryder Moore

Sara Coates

Simon Allen

Skylar Bowers

Taos Williams

Wyatt Welch

Buena Vista Civics Bee Live Competition!

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Doors open: 2:30

Competition: 3:00-5:00pm

The competition will start promptly at 3:00pm

Plan to arrive early and be in your seats by 3:00.

Photo by Jan Wondra, Ark Valley Voice
Photo by Jan Wondra, Ark Valley Voice

The top 20 finalists will go on to compete in the live, in-person Local Civics Bee Event in Buena Vista!


Buena Vista Heritage Museum

506 E. Main Street, Buena Vista, Colorado 81211


The event is free and open to the public.

Master of Ceremony

Dan R., Heart of the Rockies Radio

Keynote Speaker

Suzy Kelly, Local historian and author


We are pleased to announce the esteemed judges for the live competition!

Libby Faye, Mayor of Buena Vista

Keith Baker, Chaffee County Commissioner

Cecilia LaFrance, Executive Director, Buena Vista Public Library

Daniel Smith, Editorial Board, Ark Valley Voice

Hannah Harn, Editor, Chaffee County Times



Preparing for the Live Civics Bee Competition

The community is invited to study along with the Finalist as they prepare for the Live Civics Bee Competition. Download the study guide.

Audience members during the live competition are invited to log into the quiz platform and enter your answers in real time right along with the competitors! You will be scored and see how you stack up against the winners.

Finalists Meetings: April 1, 2024 5:30-6:30pm. Finalists will be notified about meeting location.

Watch Highlights from the 2023 National Civics Bee Finals in Washington, DC.

Press Coverage

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BV Buzz Newsletter

April 17, 2024

Hello Chamber Members & Friends,

We have winners!! This past Sunday was the live Civics Bee competition in Buena Vista. 20 Middle School student competed in 2 rounds of quite difficult multiple choice questions related to civics and how our government works.

The Top 5 (Congratulations Joseph Drexler, Simon Allen, Ryder Moore, Andee Quilico, and Max Saltzman!!!) then presented their essay topics to a standing room only audience of well over 100 people) and fielded questions from the judges.

The finalists all took the competition seriously and came incredibly well prepared. I'm so happy to celebrate the intelligence, poise, heartfelt ideas, and truly insightful essays these middle schoolers shared with us.

I'm grateful to have the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation with the youth of our community. I hope they know how much they are appreciated and how much their voices matter. I hope us adults can continue to support them and create space for them speak out and participate as they grow into the engaged and integral members of society they are already becoming.

I only have permission slips to share the Top 20 Essays (read them here), but all 77 were really important and thoughtful and relevant as well.

The top 3 kids will be moving on to the state Civics Bee competition in Denver next month!!!! Give them support if you see them around town!

Please join me in congratulating our winners!!!!!

1st Place Simon Allen, Darren Patterson Christian Academy

Simon wrote about ways to create supportive community solutions to the housing affordability crisis.

"Another tactic we could use to attain affordable housing is by applying for grants from government agencies like DOLA ( They offer grants for nonprofits to rehabilitate and build new houses and apartments. We would use the grants to start more non-profit home building organizations in Buena Vista such as Habitat for Humanity to help. Although, some may think that it would be better to do this through a more commercial company like Fading West. Bringing these non-profits would also allow people to volunteer and see the needs of others that live in Buena Vista. Not only would it help solve the housing crisis but it would bring our community together by caring for one another and helping to solve a problem." - Simon Allen

2nd Place Joseph Drexler, Darren Patterson Christian Academy

Joseph wrote about inspiring curiosity and engagement in education.

"A huge problem in our community is the problem of students not feeling excited about their education. In the 2021-2022 school year in Colorado alone there were 9,665 dropouts in grades 7-12 and the rate has increased in the past four years even after accounting for Covid

...The second thing that could help fix the problem is actually giving students more choice in how their education is handled. We could do this by giving them varied pathways and more choice on what they want to study. For example, we could give high schoolers the option not to have advanced math, participate in a debate team, or to utilize experiential learning. One other way that we could give them additional choice is by letting them choose a representative to voice their concerns and offer suggestions at school board meetings. “By offering a variety of options, students can select tasks that align with their strengths and interests, enhancing their motivation and sense of ownership” - Joseph Drexler

3rd Place Andee Quilico, Buena Vista Middle School

Andee wrote a heart wrenching essay about teen violence, the causes, and the experience of living with it.

"Violence in our schools has gotten out of hand during the past couple of years. As a teenager living in this very war-torn and violent world, I want to create more ways to help us feel safer and reduce the violence in our small towns....

...According to our school district’s file, JICDD, “Students exhibiting violent or aggressive behavior or warning signs of future violent or aggressive behavior shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action including suspension and expulsion...” Although our school claims that it will handle physical fights very seriously, I have noticed that it handles our fights very loosely...

...When we think about the improvements we want to make in our community, stopping this violence plays a key role in making Buena Vista the town we all want it to be. As we make these changes to our beautiful community, we must remember one thing; “Violence cannot be stopped by violence. It has to be stopped by wisdom. Only wisdom can stop the violence.” -  Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar"
- Andee Quilico

These three winning essays show a collective desire for a world where all people are safe and secure and enthusiastic about their lives and engaged in their communities. Here's to cultivating that community wisdom together.


Liz Morgan, MA, FNTP, RWP, JD
Executive Director
Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce
Screenshot 2024-03-26 at 5.35.46 PM

BV Buzz Newsletter

March 13, 2024

Hello Chamber Members & Friends,

I have had the great honor to read 77 essays written by local middle school students for the Civics Bee competition. What I have learned, or what has been confirmed, is that kids have important things to say. We host the Civics Bee which is an annual, nationwide event along with our co-hosts, The League of Women Voters of Chaffee County, because we believe that an intergenerational civic dialogue is absolutely vital to a well functioning society and must be cultivated.

The kids were asked to identify a problem in the community and explain how they would solve it. They wrote about problems that I also care about like bullying and violence in the schools, safe walking routes to school and around town, housing inequities and forest management, litter and environmental issues, ai and plagiarism, cultivating curiosity in the educational process, after school activities and clubs, discrimination at school, child care, and so much more.

They are paying attention and collectively they know the problems that need to be solved and they've got great ideas to move us all forward into a better future.

I believe it's up to us adults to instill in the youth that these problems can be solved. That we can do it. That we hear them and we see that's it's worth doing. We teach them by example, by taking the dialogue and the community needs seriously, by accepting no less than constant, collective improvement. We teach them to not become complacent and hopeless by celebrating together the possibilities and the successes that arise from robust civic dialogue.

Civic Dialogue is hard. People often disagree and that's ok and good and that's how important conversations go and it's important to learn how to do it. That is why I am so pleased to be able create a safe space to share ideas, be heard, be inspired and to think about next steps towards addressing the real needs of our community and meeting the needs of our times.

The top 20 finalists are now preparing for the live competition on April 14, 2024 at the Buena Vista Heritage Museum. The top 3 winners will go on to the statewide competition and the state winners go onto Washington, DC from there.

It's kind of a big deal and last year BV's very own Joseph Drexler won second in the state! Joseph is back in the local top 20 again this year so the bar is high for the live competition!

This week, I invite you let a kid in your life know you hear them and respect their ideas. Be curious about something they are saying, or thinking, or feeling. Hide their phones and have a real conversation (haha) or in some way show them what's important to them, is important.


Liz Morgan, MA, FNTP, RWP, JD
Executive Director
Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce

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Read the FULL ARTICLE about Joseph's win at states by Ark Valley Voice.


Buena Vista Civic's Bee Deadline Fast Approaching

January 24, 2024, Ark Valley Voice

"The deadline for middle school students to enter the Annual Civics Bee is just a few days away on January 22, 2024. The National Civics Bee encourages students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade to participate by engaging in civics and contributing to their communities.

The Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce co-sponsors the National Civics Bee with the Chaffee County League of Women Voters (LWVCC) and the Colorado and National Chambers of Commerce." FULL ARTICLE

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Drexler earns second in CO civics bee contest

May 25, 2023, Chaffee County Times

"… 15 middle school students from across Colorado gathered at Denver to test their civics knowledge in the National Civics Bee state competition."


2023 winners Chaffee County Times

BV National Civics Bee honors winners

April 21, 2023, Chaffee County Times

"The top 20 middle school students were chosen from their essay entries and the second phase of the first annual Buena Vista National Civics Bee proceeded April 18 at the Surf Hotel’s Ivy Ballroom.

The 20 students competing included sixth graders Maddyn Barnaby, Carly Shepherd, Mason Emilsson, Grady Wingfield, Emmett Hachmann, Mason Young and Zachary Leon; seventh graders Sara Coates, Landon Labounta, Jaden Depew, Andee Quilico and Joseph Drexler; and eighth graders Morgan Arnold, Maya Lyle, Cali Barnthouse, Danni McGrath, Paige Landers, Jamie Nall, Aberlyn Leon and Jenna Shepherd." FULL ARTICLE

Co-Hosts of the Civics Bee!

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Thank you Sponsors!