State champion academic team preps for Nationals

We the People team headed for Washington, D.C. in April

The+schools+We+the+People+team+won+the+State+championship+during+competition+in+early+December+and+now+heads+for+Nationals+in+April.+

Photo submitted

The school’s We the People team won the State championship during competition in early December and now heads for Nationals in April.

Ashlynn Bakemeyer and Emma Kress, Reporters

As We the People begins to prepare for Nationals, social studies teacher and We the People coach Mrs. Jill Twilleager, said, “It’s just an honor.”

The team, which won the State title on Dec. 9 and has qualified for the national competition on April 23-28 in Washington, D.C.,  has three-hour practices on Sundays and meetings throughout the week. Twilleager said, “The Sunday practices are set up like scrimmages and we simulate Congressional hearings for the students. During the week we have attorneys come in to speak with the students.” In addition to the Sunday practices, the team meets throughout the week. Senior Kat Griffith, a member of the State champion squad, said, “The team works about six to seven hours during the week.” 

Twilleager said, “On top of that is researching and forming opinions.”

The coach said the team’s trip to Washington provides them a chance not only to compete at the national level, but to visit many historically significant sites. Twilleager said, “The team gets to see places they have studied about. A lot of students go to D.C. for their eighth grade trip, but when they come the second time, they have a new appreciation for it.”

Griffith added, “I’m just really excited to have that opportunity to get closer with the team.”

The size of the team has had both positive and negative effects. Griffith said, “Positively, because our team is so small we all have to do two units for the competition, but we can bring that knowledge from one unit into another so we are more knowledgeable. Negatively, we have to do twice as much work because we only have nine people.” 

Twilleager added, “This is the smallest team that has ever won the State competition in Indiana and is the smallest class eligible to compete at nationals. Some of the top teams at nationals will have up to 36 kids on their team.”

The We the People team is not unfamiliar with success. Twilleager said, “Out of the eight years that we have had a competitive team, this is our fourth State championship.” Twilleager noted that the program’s highest national finish occurred in 2017 when the team finished in third place out of 56 teams. 

Griffith said, “I’ve wanted to be on We the People since I was a freshman. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come to this school was to be a part of the program.”

Twilleager said, “It’s just an honor to know that the students worked that hard and it paid off.”

Besides Griffth, the other members of the State champion team are Annika Garwood, Jackson Hern, Carson Kwiatkowski, Max Martin, Kendrick Mernitz, Anya Neumeister, Tim Sullivan and Garrett Wright.