“We The People”: Staples Students Prepare

It’s been nearly a year since Staples High School’s “We the People” team won the Northeast US championship, and finished 5th nationally, in the annual Center for Civic Education competition.

The event was virtual — not in Washington, DC, as in years past. But the joy and feeling of success was real.

This year’s team is ready to top that.

State competition — the first step on the road to the finals — begins Tuesday.

As usual, the “Citizen and the Constitution” contest is divided into 6 sections. Each group of students — all members of Suzanne Kammerman’s Advanced Placement Politics & Government class — tackles a different one.

This is not exactly “name the president and your 2 US senators.”

Here for example are 3 questions from Unit 4, asking how the values and principles embodied in the Constitution have shaped American institutions:

Should states be willing “‘to purchase’ what [James] Wilson called ‘federal liberty’ with ‘the necessary concession of their political sovereignty’”? Why or why not?

“On a single day in 1964, the [Supreme] Court in effect declared that almost all state governments were constitutionally defective! … Thus, a bloodless revolution occurred without a shot fired.” Do you agree or disagree with Akhil Reed Amar’s statement regarding the Supreme Court’s opinion in Reynolds v. Sims? Why or why not?

“The doctrine of the separation of powers was adopted by the Convention of 1787 not to promote efficiency, but to preclude the exercise of arbitrary power.” How well has the Constitution’s design accomplished what Justice Brandeis described? Explain your position.

Click here — if you dare — for the other 5, and the equally probing subsets of questions.

To prepare, teacher/coach Suzanne Kammerman enlisted the help of some heavy hitters. Attorneys Andy Laskin and Jamie Dockray, former student Sam Laskin and CEO Manoj Wadhwani are honing the competitors’ presentation and oral delivery skills.

Volunteers help Staples students prepare for the 2021 “We the People” competition.

For one of the units — addressing a major freedom of speech case involving students and the internet, just accepted by the Supreme Court — Andy Laskin contacted an attorney involved. In a compelling session, he told the Staples teenagers how he is preparing to argue before the high court.

He’s ready for Justices Roberts, Sotomayor and the rest.

Now, 2 dozen Staples students are just as ready for their own “supreme” competition.

Comments are closed.