By Elle Fair ’19
As the Staples High School We The People + A.P Government classes left Westport on April 27, the students were excited for the culmination of the year’s work. They traveled to Washington, D.C. to compete within a pool of students from 52 high schools across the country.
“At the competition, the judges test our knowledge of the constitution and U.S. government as a whole,” Cecilia Adams ’19 said. “We first competed at the state level, and then moved on to nationals.”
The trip included five days in Washington D.C. where the class was given the opportunity to tour the nation’s capital.
Isabel Handa ’19 took We the People and was able to attend the trip in Washington. “My favorite part was having the opportunity to spend five days exploring D.C. with my class,” Handa said. “We all bonded so much and it was really cool to meet people from all over the country.”
The competition consisted of three days of debate, even though the Staples team only made it to the second day.
“It was an amazing experience to just be there with some of the brightest minds of my age,” Benji Malowitz ’18 said. “I don’t think I’ll have another experience quite like it.”
The class consists of an abundance of preparation within small groups leading up to the debate. The groups are split up into six different units in which they cover a variety of topics about the United States government. Before the debate, the groups prepare responses for three questions that will be asked during the debate.
Hallie Spear ’18 competed in Washington and was particularly struck by the manner in which the open ended questions were asked.
“The open ended questioning is really hard,” Spear said. “We have to know specific case-law, philosophy, bills, statistics- so it’s definitely a nerve wracking experience.”
After the responses are read from the students, the judges then have six minutes to ask any open ended questions in which the students have to work together to gather a response.
Grant High School of Portland, Oregon won the entire competition while the Staples team placed 23 out of 52.
According to civiced.org, nearly $2,000,000 was raised to ensure the success of the competition. This included hiring a guest speaker: Cara Mund, Miss America 2018 came to speak.
The We the People competition was set in place to expand students understanding and knowledge of the United States government while teaching them the speaking skills they need to succeed in life.
“I was really proud of the hard work that the students put in for the competition,” Suzanne Kammerman, teacher of We the People said. “They represented Staples well.”