“We The People”: Staples’ Constitutional Champs

Congress is bitterly divided. Government norms are under attack. Some Americans wonder whether our Constitution can survive.

If you worry that so much negativity will turn an entire young generation off to politics: Have no fear.

Just talk to Suzanne Kammerman’s Advanced Placement Government and Politics class.

The 23 students examine questions like: How did the framers create the Constitution? How have our Constitutional values and principles shaped American institutions and practices? What challenges does our democracy face in the 21st century?

The Staples juniors and seniors do more than discuss these issues. They compete against other high schools in a simulated congressional hearing, before a panel of actual judges, college law professors, state senators and attorneys.

The local teenagers do it very, very well. Last weekend, they finished 1st in the statewide “We the People” competition.

Staples High School’s 2019 “We the People” champions.

The victory broke Trumbull High’s 8-year stranglehold on first place. And it earned Staples a spot in April’s national “We the People” event, in Leesburg, Virginia.

The Westporters have qualified before, as 2nd-place wildcard finishers. This is their first year guaranteed a spot, as state champs.

More than 20 years ago, as a student at Shelton High, Kammerman herself participated in “We the People.” It was so powerful, she helped introduce the course to Staples.

Students spend hours outside of class forming teams, researching questions, developing answers, then arguing them in front of prestigious, difficult judges.

At a time when many Americans throw up their hands about government, it’s good to know that a great group of Westport teenagers embrace it.

(“We the People” winners include Surya Balaji, Taha Banatwala, Lucy Belknap, Brian Campbell, Violet Cooper, Lars Djuve, Michael Farnen, Dylan Goodman, Grace Katz, Kashvi Kumar, Brett Levy, Gary Lu, Natalia Maidique, William Matar, Tadeo Messenger, Neha Navrange, Maximus Pace, Samuel Powell, Claire Redmer, Andrew Spangler, Nicholas Suarez, Rachel Suggs and Samantha Webster.)

The Constitution

10 responses to ““We The People”: Staples’ Constitutional Champs

  1. Congratulations to these students!

  2. This is wonderful and uplifting news! We will be cheering for you all!

  3. Congratulations to the entire Staples “We The People” Team and their wonderful teacher Ms. Kammerman for winning the State Championship defending the US Constitution.

    Today of all days, let us all pause to hope, pray and “fight like hell” that our country’s “Great Experiment in Democracy” endures beyond our current constitutional crisis. Our experiment is very fragile indeed. Unconscionable if it slips away on our watch…

    • Luciano Morelli

      Who do you think is stepping on our Constitution worse? Trump (for what exactly?) or the left/media/FBI/CIA with their ridiculous abuses in the FISA court, made up Russi-gate and spying? Sad that Comey was from Westport.

  4. So proud of Mrs. Kammerman and this class! Congratulations!

  5. What a terrific accomplishment. Kudos to the entire group, including Suzanne Kammerman for helping establish this as part of the curriculum. One of the most stimulating courses I ever took on any level was a Con Law class taught by Charles Black I had the great fortune of taking in college.

    Among other things, I hope this experience inspires all of these students to vote since I imagine one of the lessons they have learned is that the Constitution ultimately is what nine justices on the Supreme Court interpret it to be.

    PS—Dan, I’m pleased to see Staples soccer well represented in this group.

  6. Thanks, Fred. We are very proud of all of these students — including soccer players Surya Balaji and Lars Djuve.

  7. This is an incredible result and speaks volumes about the hard work by the students and the tireless passion of Suzanne Kammerman. Dethroning Turmbull was not easy. Onto the Nationals!

  8. Jaimie F. Dockray

    So proud of these students! All of those weekend and after-school hours really paid off! As for Suzanne Kammermann, she is simply a treasure — her love for the Constitution and for her profession is evident in everything she does. We are grateful to have her in our district. Now on to Nationals!