Tag Archives: “We the People” competition

Unsung Hero #284

Danielle Dobin wears many hats in Westport. One that most folks never see is her volunteer efforts helping Staples High School’s “We the People” team prepare for state and national competitions.

From her front row seat, she nominated social studies teacher Suzanne Kammerman as this week’s Unsung Hero. Danielle writes:

After placing 2nd in Connecticut and earning a spot at the national competition, Staples’ “We the People” team just returned from a trip to Virginia and Washington.

Suzanne Kammerman

[NOTE: “We the People” is part of the Advanced Placement Politics & Government curriculum. Kammerman took the course more than 25 years ago as a Shelton High School student. It made such an impact, she helped introduce the course at Staples.

[It’s a huge commitment outside of class. Students spend hours forming teams, researching questions, developing answers, then arguing them in front of judges who are professors and constitutional experts. Those who take the course are passionate about government — and Kammerman stokes that fire.

[There are 6 units of questions, on topics like political philosophy, theory and the Federalist Papers. Specific examples include “Philosophical and Historical Foundations of the American Political System” and “What Challenges Might Face American Constitutional Democracy in the 21st Century?”

[Working in groups of 3 or 4, students explore 3 questions each, in astonishing depth. Using critical analysis skills, they respond in writing to all 3 questions. They then respond to judges’ questions — without notes.]

While Virginia’s Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies from Richmond placed 1st in the country overall, the Unit 1 team from Staples — juniors Emerson Briggs, Alyssa Lee and Dylan Fiore — earned the highest recognition for their study of the philosophical foundations of America’s founding documents and institutions.

The Unit 1 national winners (from left): Emerson Briggs, Alyssa Lee, Dylan Fiore. (Photo/Danielle Dobin)

All of the “We the People” students are committed to excellence. Ms. Kammerman (affectionately known as Kamm) dedicates endless hours outside of school to prepping, practicing and inspiring her students.  The entire “We the People” program exists in Westport due to her tireless dedication.

Andy Laskin has had 2 sons participate. He says, “I have seen how Kamm magically plants the seeds of legal knowledge, and inspires students not only to learn but to express themselves persuasively. The future is bright for those fortunate students who learn from Suzanne.”

The 2023 We the People team, at the Lincoln Memorial. (Photo/Danielle Dobin)

As one of the many parent mentors (like Andy) she recruited over the years, I want to highlight Kamm’s phenomenal support of her students, and her deep commitment to engaging young people in the study of civics. She is a real hero.

As her Unit 1 students would say: “Kamm truly embodies the classical republican ideal of civic virtue!”

(“06880” is proud to shine a spotlight on Westport’s Unsung Heroes. Please click here to help support this feature, and our work. Thank you!)

Roundup: We The People, Roe Halper, Joe Biden …


“We the People” — Staples High School’s AP Government class, and the national competition of the same name — teaches students to research, analyze, synthesize and present important constitutional issues.

And it teaches them to think on their feet, and improvise.

A last-minute switch to a virtual format on Saturday did not faze Suzanne Kammerman’s 23 students. She commandeered the school library; a giant TV was set up; parents brought food, and team members set up in individual rooms with their laptops

The Westport teens’ knowledge of constitutional law was impressive (click here to see the depth and breadth of the questions). They finished second overall to traditional rival Trumbull, ahead of always-strong Greenwich.

Congratulations to all our constitutional scholars; to Kammerman, and the volunteers who helped prepare them for the event (and kept them fed)! (Hat tip: Lyn Hogan)

Like members of a (more academic) “Breakfast Club,” these 4 students did not know each other before the competition. But they finished with the top score of all 6 Staples “units,” and celebrated as friends afterward. Clockwise from lower left: Lilly Weisz, Sebatian Malino, Nikos Ninos, James Dobin-Smith.

Back row (left to right): Sebastian Malino, Nikos Ninos, James Dobin-Smith, Michael Brody, William Wang, Ishan Prasad, Zach Brody, Jackson Benner. Middle row:
Matthew Shackelford, Jet Tober, Scarlett Siegel, Clara Smith, Alex Laskin. Front row: Lilly Weisz, Spencer Yim, Rebecca Schussheim, Anna Diorio, Lucia Wang, Meredith Mulhern, Katharine Shackelford, Eva Simonte, Ryan Salik, Allison Gillman, teacher Suzanne Kammerman.


Good things come to good organizations.

Westport Book Sale Ventures — the nonprofit that operates the Westport Book Shop and Westport Library book sales — has just been awarded $10,000.

The money, from Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, supports the group’s employment program for people with disabilities.

Both of Westport Book Sale Ventures’ ventures employ residents with physical and emotional disabilities, in a variety of roles.


For more than 60 years, Roe Halper has been a noted Westport artist. She’s still active.

Of course, her work has evolved greatly over the years. This Thursday (February 10, 7 p.m., Westport Library Trefz Forum) she’ll discuss exactly how. Her talk is part of her current exhibit “Orange,” on view in the Sheffer Gallery through March 6.

Her presentation should be fascinating — and “illustrative.” To learn more about Halper, click here.

Roe Halper, at her exhibit.


Drivers coming off Merritt Parkway Exit 42 from the west see signs pointing them to Westport or Weston.

That’s it — no “Welcome to Westport!” or other warm, fuzzy greetings.

Except for this new sign, hung recently a few yards away on the Weston Road curve near Main Street:

(Photo/Debbie Silver)


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” image is classic mid-winter Westport. If you haven’t been to Sherwood Island recently, you’re missing out on beauty — and solitude.

(Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)


And finally … drummer Sam Lay died recently in Chicago. He was 86.

The New York Times cited his “exuberant, idiosyncratic drumming … known for its double-shuffle groove.”

Lay played with Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. He backed Bob Dylan, when the folk singer went electric at Newport in 1965.

And — most importantly for “06880” — he was a founding member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. The keyboardist was current Westport resident Mark Naftalin.

The Times says they were “racially integrated, a rarity at the time, and bought the blues to a white audience during an intense period in the civil rights movement.”

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. Lay is also in the Blues Hall of Fame. (Click here for the full Times obituary.)



Roundup: Light Up Westport, Shoveling, “We The People,” More


First Selectman Jim Marpe and 2nd Selectman Jen Tooker helped “Light up Westport” yesterday at Town Hall (photo below).

They were not alone.

Dozens of others bought luminaries to send a message of hope and resilience — and raise money for Filling in the Blanks, the non-profit that provides weekend meals to needy area residents.

The event was sponsored by WestportMoms and Purpose 2 Purchase.

(Photo courtesy of Town of Westport)


At the end of yesterday’s Roundup item reminding commercial property owners that they are responsible for all snow and ice removal from their sidewalks, I noted that residential homeowners must do the same.

That’s true in Westport, Wisconsin — but not Westport, Connecticut. Homeowners only are off the hook.

Still, it wouldn’t hurt.

And don’t forget to shovel your hydrants!


Boat purchases have risen during the pandemic. There’s a wait list of more than 1,000 people — and they’re waiting up to 11 years for a slip at a town marina.

And those slip fees will rise in 2022.

Yesterday, the Board of Selectmen approved increases for boats in 4 categories. For examples, owners of boats 22 to 26 feet will pay $1,580, up from $1,505; boat owners of slips 35 to 40 feet will pay $3,099, up from $2,695.

There is no increase for slips less than 21 feet.

Ned Dimes Marina, at Compo Beach (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)


Congratulations to Staples High School’s “We the People” team.

For the 2nd year in a row, teacher/advisor/coach Suzanne Kammerman and her crew took 1st place in the state competition.

For the 2nd year in a row, they knocked out longtime powerhouse Trumbull High.

For the 2nd year in a row, their championship earns them a place in the national contest, this April.

And for the 2nd year in a row, they don’t get a traditional trip to Washington for nationals. Once again, this year’s event will be virtual.

Last year, the team placed 5th in the US. This time around, they’re gunning this year for the top spot.

State champs!


From today through Saturday (February 13), Winged Monkey will donate 15% of all proceeds to CLASP Homes, the great non-profit that supports adults with developmental disabilities.

Can’t make it in, but want to help? Text Valentines to 44-321 to make a donation.

Basso restaurant is also participating. Show a Winged Monkey receipt; they’ll give you a free glass of prosecco.

And more on Winged Monkey: The popular Post Road East shop celebrates its 25th anniversary on March 1. That’s appropriate: March is Women’s History Month.

Winged Monkey has a great history in town. It’s always been woman-owned. Jenny Vogel has now taken over from her mother, who founded the business and ran it all this time.  

Here’s to the next 25 years, for one of the coolest — and best named — stores anywhere!


“When Caged Birds Sing” — a human rights teaching exhibition created by Westport artist Ann Weiner — has been acquired by MoCA Westport for its permanent collection. It is thte museum’s first such acquisition.

Weiner’s work features 8 life-size sculptures. They represent women’s rights activists who suffered and survived abuse because of their gender, and continue to advocate for the rights of others at risk.

The exhibition will be on view at MoCA Westport every 3 to 5 years. In between it will be loaned to other museums.

Click here to learn more about “When Caged Birds Sing.”

Ann Weiner, with one element of “When Caged Birds Sing.”


Roberta Seret is a United Nations NGO director and NYU film professor. Now the Westporter adds another title: author.

Her book “Gift of Diamonds” will be published February 23. She’s turned government secrets and stories from Romania into fiction, for a journey of self-discovery.

The history of Bucharest Jews forms the center of the story, which begins in 1960s Transylvania. “Gift of Diamons” reveals hidden secrets of how fascism led to communism — which formed the seeds of modern-day terrorism. Click here for more information.


And finally … on this day in 1534, Henry VIII was recognized as supreme head of the Church of England. You know what’s coming …

“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.

Staples’ “We The People” Team Earns Regional Crown

It may not have been the hugging, high-fiving celebration they deserved.

But Staples High School’s “We the People” team looked ecstatic last night, as they learned — online — that they won the Northeast US championship in the Center for Civic Education’s annual competition.

So instead, the 23 team members and faculty advisor Suzanne Kammerman celebrated virtually.

Staples’ “We the People” team get the good news on Zoom.

That’s the same way they had competed the day before. In a nerve-wracking session, 6 different groups answered judges’ difficult questions about history, policy and law.

They nailed it.

Their performance — placing them Number 5 nationally, the highest-ever finish for a Staples “We the People” team — was well earned. It was the result of months of research, writing and preparation by the crew. They were aided by volunteers like Andy Laskin and Jamie Dockray.

Staples advanced to the finals by winning the state championship in December. The victory — which snapped Trumbull High’s 8-year stranglehold on first place — earned the Westporters a trip to Washington, DC. It would be the culmination of the school year, and all their hard work.

COVID-19 upended those plans. But the teenagers went right back to work, readying themselves for the virtual version of nationals.

Kammerman — who participated in “We the People” herself more than 20 years ago, as a Shelton High student — hails her team.

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

“They performed remarkably,” she says. “I’m heartbroken they missed out on the trip to D.C., because I know what they would have experienced and accomplished there.

“But this experience gave the students a sense of community and purpose that was so necessary during very uncertain times. I told them that someday when their grandchildren ask about the coronavirus pandemic, they’ll have a pretty cool story to tell them.”

Congratulations to Staples’ “We the People” team, their coach and assistants. We the Westporters are very, very proud.

Staples “We The People” Team Heads Virtually To DC

Last fall, 23 Staples High School students began preparing for this coming weekend. It would be the finals of the national “We the People” competition.

Getting there — spending 5 days in Washington, DC — would not be easy. But in December, Suzanne Kammerman’s Advanced Placement Politics and Government class was crowned Connecticut champions. The win broke Trumbull High’s 8-year stranglehold on first place.

With the help of interested Westporters like Andy Laskin and Jamie Dockray, the teenagers prepped for nationals.

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

It’s a monumental task. Each team is divided into 6 groups. Each must be ready to answer 3 separate and exceptionally difficult questions on history, politics and law. For example:

“If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought — not free thought for those who agree with us, but freedom for the thought that we hate.” (Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.)  To what extent has this view influenced American culture?”

The Staples students worked hard, hours a day after school and on weekends.

Then came COVID-19.

On March 11, Westport schools closed. That same night, the Center for Civic Education — We the People’s sponsors — canceled the national event.

Kammerman deliver the crushing news by email.

But quickly, the CCE devised an alternative: a virtual competition.

Kammerman was unsure how her students would respond. Nearly all jumped at the chance.

Ever since, the 2 dozen teenagers have been working together — though apart physically — on their presentations.

It will be a streamlined version. Thirty-one teams elected to compete, down from the original 52. Rather than one round each on Saturday and Sunday, with the finals Monday, the cyberspace nationals will be one round only.

Staples has a Sunday morning slot. Students will log on to Zoom, and enter a secure “room.” Each of the 6 groups will present, then spend 6 minutes answering judges’ questions. The topics are the Bill of Rights, 19th Amendment and America’s system of elections. Winners will be announced Sunday night.

Since mid-March, the Westporters have been researching and writing. This week they honed their responses, in small and large group online sessions.

Andy Laskin is one of several Westporters helping prepare students for the “We the People” competition. He’s in the upper left with Sam Laskin; clockwise are Gary Lu, Sam Powell and William Matar.

Kammerman is impressed with their dedication and perseverance. They all take several difficult classes; distance learning has not meant a lesser workload at all.

Of course, she notes, “their weekends are freer than they used to be.” Still, she is amazed at how hard they work.

“A lot of the excitement had been about spending 5 days in Washington,” she knows. “That was a prize itself. They’re missing out on that. But they’re still very excited.”

Kammerman — who participated in “We the People” herself more than 20 years ago, as a Shelton High student — has worked hard too. In addition to preparing her class, she’s been on conference calls about the contest’s technology and security. On Wednesday she did a full run-through with her class.

An online session, preparing for the “We the People” competition.

Like so many other teachers, she’s been juggling her other classes, her own children’s distance learning, her spouse who works from home, and running a household during a pandemic.

But, she says, “I love it. This is worth it to me. The days fly by. When I sit at night and help kids with their research, it’s really special.

“The kids are so great. They push me forward.”

In another world, they would have all pushed forward to Washington this weekend.

Instead, they’re all home — alone, together — in Westport.

But in true American spirit, “We the People” will prevail.

“We The People” Needs We The Westporters

In 2020, we celebrate the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which recognized the right of women to vote. Despite recent controversy, the Equal Rights Amendment has not yet been ratified. What are the similarities and differences between these two amendments?

“If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought — not free thought for those who agree with us, but freedom for the thought that we hate.” (Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.)  To what extent has this view influenced American culture?

In the 1793–94 Pacificus–Helvidius debates, Alexander Hamilton contended that the power to declare war was both legislative and executive in nature. James Madison disagreed, saying that this power was exclusively legislative. Whose opinion do you favor and why?

Could you answer those questions?

Staples High School’s “We the People” team is confident they can.

That’s not just teenage we-can-conquer-the-world cockiness.

In December, 23 students in Suzanne Kammerman’s Advanced Placement Politics and Government class were crowned state champs in the annual competition. The momentous win broke Trumbull High’s 8-year stranglehold on first place.

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

Now the students are preparing for April’s national contest, in Leesburg, Virginia.

It’s quite a task. Each team is divided into 6 groups. Each must be ready to answer 3 separate questions on history, politics and law.

Only one will be asked in the oral question round. But all team members must participate. And each of the 6 groups must be strong. If one falters, the entire class score suffers.

Like all schools, the Staples students, teachers and parent supporters will be isolated in one room. They can’t watch anyone else. It’s a pressure-filled day, as judges shuttle in and out to question the teenagers.

Many schools — including Trumbull — treat “We the People” as a separate course. At Staples though, it’s just one part of the AP curriculum.

In the past, Trumbull prepared for the national competition by enlisting a host of townspeople — lawyers, college history professors teachers, politicians — to assist.

The Staples students get help from just a couple of parents. Andy Laskin — an attorney — takes time off from work. He attends class in person, and FaceTimes too.

For example, for 4th Amendment search and seizure issues, he brings in school resource officer Ed Woolridge. Laskin creates hypothetical police issues, then tweaks the conduct slightly to see how that changes the officer’s suspicions and reactions. It’s complex. And exactly the type of preparation the students need.

Another lawyer, Jamie Dockray, works with them in person, during the week and on weekends at the library.

But it’s labor-intensive. Each adult can only be with 4 students at a time, because each group gets separate questions.

So the “We the People” advisors are asking we — the Westporters — for help.

A lawyer in town who offers his or her conference room; former college history majors who love to talk about politics, law and the Constitution; actors to work on presentation skills — all are welcome.

Volunteers could also help as “judges,” during a practice competition before the April trip.

All could be “game-changers,” Laskin says. The key is to help teenagers “look, sound, act and think like lawyers — and learn the skills to do the research and pull off the argument in front of real judges. It’s very cool.”

“We have plenty of brilliant minds in Westport,” he notes. “There are parents of former We the People students, parents who can get involved before their kids are juniors and seniors … this could be a feel-good, come-together Westport story.

“Suzanne Kammerman puts her heart and soul into this. Some kids say We the People was the defining moment of their high school careers. Let’s all support this amazing program any way we can.”

Interested in helping? Email andylaskinesq@gmail.com, or text Andy Laskin: 203-610-7065. For the full text of all 18 “We The People” questions, click here.

“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

Staples Students: “We The People”

Supreme Court Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote, “I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country.” Do you agree or disagree with Justice Holmes? Why?

That’s a tough question. It takes a ton of work just to understand what Holmes said — let alone figure out what you think, then devise arguments for or against it.

It’s especially hard for a teenager. But this question — and 17 others like it — have inspired an entire Staples High School class, for months.

And at the end of April, they head to Washington to argue those 18 questions, in a national competition that’s a proving ground for future leaders of the free world.

In just their 3rd year of existence, students in Suzanne Kammerman’s “We the People” Advanced Placement Government course finished 2nd in a statewide contest. That qualified them for the DC event.

Suzanne Kammerman (2nd row, far right) and her AP Government "We the People" class, after finishing 2nd in the statewide competition last December.

Suzanne Kammerman (2nd row, far right) and her AP Government “We the People” class, after finishing 2nd in the statewide competition last December.

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. Though the high school offers 9 sections of AP Government, this is the only one that includes the contest component.

It’s an added commitment — students spend hours outside of class forming teams, researching questions, developing answers, then arguing them in front of judges who are professors and constitutional experts — but students who are passionate about government embrace it. They compete in “We the People” in addition to their other coursework — which includes preparing for the regular AP exam.

According to Milton Friedman, “The existence of a free market does not of course eliminate the need for government. On the contrary, government is essential both as a forum for determining the ‘rules of the game’ and as an umpire to interpret and enforce the rules decided on.” To what extent, if any, are Friedman’s ideas seen in the development of capitalism in western civilization?

There are 6 units of questions, on topics like “Philosophical and Historical Foundations of the American Political System” and “What Challenges Might Face American Constitutional Democracy in the 21st Century?”

we-the-people-logoWorking in groups of 3 or 4, students explore 3 questions each, in astonishing depth. Using critical analysis skills, they respond in writing to all 3 questions. They then respond to judges’ questions — without notes.

“I’m amazed at how much these kids have to know,” Kammerman — who meets with them on weekends, at the library and Barnes & Noble — says.

“And they really look at the Constitution with genuine civic dialogue. They’re not hyper-partisan. They all have points of view about politics, but they push them aside. It’s very impressive.”

In a speech to his fellow Virginians in 1775 Patrick Henry noted, “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience.” What lessons from history and experiences led the colonists to develop and structure their legislatures and their relationships to their executives and judiciaries the way they did in their new state constitutions?

Suzanne Kammerman (Photo/Madeline Hardy for Inklings)

Suzanne Kammerman (Photo/Madeline Hardy for Inklings)

At the qualifying competition in December, held at Central Connecticut State University, questions were asked about 4th Amendment issues like privacy and search and seizure, in the context of schools. Judges were so impressed with the Staples students’ responses that they continued talking, long after the 6-minute timer went off.

Right now, the class is preparing for the national contest. They’re excited at the chance to participate in mock congressional hearings, and see the sights in Washington. Kammerman has also arranged a meeting with Senator Chris Murphy.

But besides studying for some very tough questions, the “We the People” class has another task. The cost of the trip — including transportation and hotels — is nearly $30,000.

They received a very generous $15,000 donation from the law firm of Koskoff Koskoff and Bieder. But they need more.

If you’d like to help the next generation of leaders, contact Kammerman (skammerman@westport.k12.ct.us) or Staples principal James D’Amico (jdamico@westport.k12.ct.us).

What do you think Thomas Jefferson meant when he included the right to the “pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence instead of the more commonly used “right to property”? Where might the concept have come from?

The Constitution

The Constitution