We The People continues winning streak at state-wide competition


Katie Simons '22

Rishabh Mandayam ’21, Katie Simons ’22, Alex Harrington ’22, and Natalie Bandura ’22 prepare for the competition via Zoom. The group covered Unit 5, which focuses on freedom of speech and the right to privacy.

Staples’ We The People (WTP) team placed first at the 2021 state competition on Feb. 8, 2021, continuing their two-year winning streak

The WTP competition, which was held virtually, simulates congressional hearings in which students “testify” before a panel of judges acting as members of Congress, according to the program’s site. The course of the same name prepares students for these hearings, all while maintaining the rigorous coursework of an A.P. Government curriculum.

“Preparing for the competition is an all year round ordeal,” Katherine Smith ’22 said. “It’s a lot of work, but we spread it between the AP curriculum. Learning both at the same time was really helpful because it would help us understand our unit questions even more for the competition.”

Each year, students are divided into six distinct “units,” each covering a different topic pertaining to U.S. government and politics. Each unit prepares a four minute response to two questions and trains for the six minute ‘follow-up’ questions from the judges. 

Suzanne Kammerman, who teaches the course, has adapted her teaching methods in order to maintain distancing and safety precautions.

“While the hybrid model poses its own unique set of challenges, the students were able to make it work,” Kammerman said. “We utilized Zoom during class and at night and on the weekends.”

Despite COVID restrictions, students utilized Zoom in order to adequately prepare for their questioning in class and out.

“Our unit met with a lawyer who will be presenting his argument before the Supreme Court [via Zoom],” Rishabh Mandayam ’21 said. “He walked us through the arguments he was planning and how he would incorporate previous cases to help build his argument.”

Though the We the People National Finals are typically held in Washington, D.C., they will remain virtual for the second year in a row. The competition will be held April 24-26 via Zoom.

“This is just a wonderful group of students who have persevered in spite of everything,” Kammerman said. “While this year has not been ideal, I am proud of them for overcoming the hurdles that the year posed and coming out on top.”