Every year, 1 million or so students from the best high schools across the county participate in the We the People competition, battling for a chance to travel to Washington, D.C., for the finals.

As experts on the U.S. Constitution, teams engage in simulated congressional hearings, where they're quizzed on such topics as "The Philosophical and Historical Foundations of the American Political System," "How Changes in the Constitution Have Furthered the Ideals in the Declaration of Independence" and "Twenty-first Century Challenges to American Constitutional Democracy." And for six of the past seven years, the top prize has been traded between two Portland high schools, Grant and Lincoln.

No other city—or state, for that matter—has come anywhere close to matching that achievement in the competition's three-decade history. Grant was the most recent winner, with Lincoln finishing third. Grant also won in 2015 and 2013, while Lincoln took home the top prize in 2016, 2014, and 2012. Maybe there's hope for our democracy after all—and it can be found right in our backyard. RICHARD MEEKER.

Click here for the full Best of Portland 2018 guide.