We the People take on states competition


On Jan. 8 the students of We the People arrived in Lansing to conquer the states competition. This competition had been something the students prepared for relentlessly. Their hard work paid off as they took fourth place out of the ten teams there. Unfortunately, they did not qualify for the nationals competition. However, this was a great time for the students to reflect upon the semester and all of their achievements.

During the competition the students are broken up into six units and each unit is expected to prepare a four minute statement for the three questions the state judges give them. The students have no idea what the questions will be. They also have six minutes of follow up questions they are expected to answer, again going off of nothing but their own brains. They must use their knowledge of The Constitution, court cases, past practices, etc. in order to efficiently answer the question.

“They have all of this knowledge, that is their biggest strength, but it all depends on the day. They could be having an off day or a really good day,” Ms. Shantry says.

Ms. Shantry has taught the We the People class for three years and has helped the students to prepare for the competitive atmosphere of the states competition since September.

“We did a ton of research, research everyday. We had mock hearings where teachers would come in and help us judge,” Ms. Shantry says.

Mr. Bill Vailliencourt, the prosecuting attorney of Livingston county since 2012, is a judge during the We the People practice rounds. He has been judging the practice rounds for around 10 years.

“[We look to see] that they actually answer the question. We want to see that the student understands The Constitution aspect of it and the standards involved,” Mr. Vailliencourt says.

Students must be able to apply The Constitution to today’s events and must explain its relevance when answering the questions. They are challenged to use a higher level of thinking when competing in these competitions. Participants take away much more than just facts and information.

“They learn how to study a specific subject in depth and see how they can apply lessons from the past to today and to today’s relationship with the government,” Mr. Vailliencourt says.

Many students seem to feel as though the atmosphere at states is much more intense and formal than that of districts.

“[At states] you can definitely feel the tension, especially at the award ceremony. Everyone is very competitive about it,” senior Alex Doyle says.

Even though they did not qualify for nationals, many of the students still felt proud of their achievements and have appreciated the learning experience the class offered.

“I think it went really well. We really did the best we have done out of all of the units. It was a lot of fun and I was so proud of everyone,” Stephanie Golphin says.

The HHS We the People class rounded off their year taking fourth place at this year’s state competition. Next year, they hope to be able to qualify and take on the nationals competition.
“I’ve always been impressed with the students at Howell High School. They work hard and pay attention and that’s always nice to see,” Mr. Vailliencourt says.