A.P. We The People class competes in national event in D.C.

Staples’ We The People class poses with John Tinker of the landmark Supreme Court case Tinker v Des Moines, which extended students’ freedom of speech.

Photo contributed by Suzanne Kammerman

Staples’ We The People class poses with John Tinker of the landmark Supreme Court case Tinker v Des Moines, which extended students’ freedom of speech.

The A.P. We The People class traveled to Washington, D.C. to compete in the 32nd annual national finals held from April 26 to April 29. Over 1,200 high school students from 56 high schools participated in the event.

Staples will not receive their final results until the week of May 6, but they are aware they have not placed among the top 10 teams.

During the finals, each unit of 3-5 team members prepared a 4-minute written response to the main question posed by a panel of judges and 6 minutes of closed-notes questioning. The format “provides students an excellent opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles,” according to the We The People site.

Social studies teacher Suzanne Kammerman, who teaches Staples’ only We The People class, believes that the event is also a unique way to assess knowledge, and even has experience with it from her high school days.

“I participated in this competition when I was in high school and it was an experience that stuck with me and I hope that the same will be the true for these students,” Kammerman said. “I think the opportunity to work as a team to answer complex political and historical questions empowers them to grow as students and future citizens.”

Despite Staples not placing among the top 10 schools, We The People student Sam Laskin ’20 believes that the class was thoroughly prepared for the competition.

“Mrs. Kammerman prepared us by constantly assessing us on our knowledge of the content,” Laskin said, “which was useful in conversing with the judges on our topics. She also vigorously edited our written responses and helped us refine our wording to meet the time limit.”

The class of 22 students, however, isn’t simply open to all students from enrollment. “To get into the class, I had to get a recommendation from my US history teacher,” Catherine Sprouls ’19, a We The People alum who also attended the national event in 2018, said. “Then, I had to write an essay during one of my lunch periods, where I wrote a prompt about Congress.”

Although the admissions process is competitive, current We the People student Cassie Lang ’20 appreciates the opportunities the class and trip have given her.

“While I’ve been to DC a few times, I’d never quite had the opportunity to explore some of the many public institutions it has to offer,” Lang said. “In the capital, educational resources are readily accessible as the majority of museums are free of charge. I only wish we’d had more time to pass through the exhibits.”

We The People student Emma Lieberman ’20 felt that the trip helped her to communicate with others more effectively and explore the intricacies of government.

“From the experience of the competition of a whole,” Lieberman said, “I learned how to work with group members, how to present myself, how to think on the spot and answer questions with evidence. I also got to learn about of our country’s history, good and bad, through my visitation to museums.”

Regardless of where the team places, Lang believes that the class was able to bond in a unique way through their shared experience.

“I loved visiting there and just taking it in with my friends,” Lang added. “We’d all grown closer over the course of the trip, so I guess you could say we went from six units to one.”