We the People team crowned state champs...again

Trumbull High’s We the People team won its seventh consecutive citizen and Constitution competition state championship last week. The 29 seniors in Katie Boland’s AP/ECE Government/Constitutional Studies class beat St. Joseph’s High School, Greenwich High School, Immaculate High School, South Windsor High School, Staples High School and Torrington High School in the competition, held at Central CT. State.

The students began their preparation at the start of the school year as they became experts testifying on constitutional issues in a simulated congressional hearing.

The competition involved entire classes making presentations and answering questions on constitutional topics from judges around the state. The teams were judged not only on the content of their opening statement, but also their ability to answer follow up questions from a panel of judges both with opinion and fact.

Samantha Almonacid, a member of Trumbull’s Unit 2 said she had been a shy student who rarely spoke out in class before participating in We the People.

"After experiencing this class for more than three months I have seen a change in myself and a change in how I am as a student,” she said. “I am no longer shy to participate in class, because preparing my speech throughout the year has made me more comfortable with my voice. Also, the endless nights of studying and reading articles has improved my ability to research.”

Besides doing research and collaboration, students also had the opportunity to practice in competition-like settings. Trumbull Academic Challenge for Excellence Foundation, led by Kate Donahue of Trumbull, organized multiple practices sessions for the team throughout the semester. Steven Michels and Jennifer McLaughlin, history professors at Sacred Heart also provided additional research to the team.

The team also received help from two graduates of Trumbull High School and former We the People state champions. Andrew Gladstein (’02) invited Trumbull to his law firm in New York City in early December for a special practice sessions. In addition, another alumnus Mark Ritacco (Trumbull ’03) that works in Senator Chris Murphy’s office provided help with the questions involving the separation of powers and the three branches of government.

The team now advances to the national finals to be held in Washington D.C. from April 28 to May 1 against teams from all over the country. Last year’s team finished #13 in the country.

“The thing I love most about We the People is how deep into the weeds it gets - being able to read primary sources about our founders and to see how their ideas are found throughout our history is an amazing opportunity and really puts America today in context,” said team member Stefano Mancini. “We the People is unique in that it requires a lot of independent learning and quick thinking, which is as difficult as it is rewarding.”

The team members are Lindsay Adams, Natalie Almonacid, Samantha Almonacid, Ethan Bachand, Max Bowen, Emma Butler, Shane Carley, Morgan Carrano, Danielle Cross, Connor Flaherty, Lalith Gannavaram, Sarah Giaquinto, Joseph Guedes, Gillian Kick, Manya Kidambi, Allison Lewis, Julia Louw, Lauren Louw, Stefano Mancini, Derek Marble, Mariam Marino, Mia McKinney, Joshua Merkin, Ishan Negi, Jessica Parillo, Joseph Piccolo, Laura Rosales, Alev Yorulmaz, Lawrence Zhang.