We the People to host showcase on Feb. 10

State Sen. Ruckelshaus will serve as guest speaker


Photo submitted

The State champion We the People team will host a showcase on Feb. 10 in the Shiel Student Life Center.

Whitley Walton, Reporter

After winning both the Regional and State competitions, the We the People team will go on to represent Indiana in the nationals in April. 

Until then, they are looking to recruit incoming juniors and seniors to join the team and will put their considerable talents on display on Feb. 10. On that day, the We the People team and coaches will host a welcome meeting that starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Shiel Student Life Center. Appetizers will be served. State Sen. John Ruckelshaus will serve as the guest speaker. 

Government and economics teacher Jill Twilleager explained We the People. “It’s an AP Government class that has a dual purpose to prepare for the competition sponsored by the Center for Civic Education.” Twilleager notes that the Indiana Bar Foundation refers to our We the People team as Team Indiana.

Since the class fulfills the government elective required to graduate, Twilleager encourages students to complete their U.S. History credit before taking the class. “It’s for somebody who is super excited about politics and learning more about our government history, or somebody who doesn’t really know about the government and wants to learn more,” Twilleager said. 

She also noted the difference in the class environment. “It’s a competitive team, so someone who has that competitive drive and likes to work towards an end goal outside of just learning content, but how to use it,” she said. 

Senior Garret Wright decided to participate We the People after being a part of Model UN when he was a junior. Wright compares We the People to a congressional hearing. “In the House of Representatives, the Senate, you see these Congressional hearings where a group of people  present an idea to a board of other representatives and seeing if they can pass something or get their agenda out.”

Senior Annika Garwood spoke on the expectations for the class. “This isn’t really a class to take lightly. This was going to be a class that you had to work hard for, but you had a group of students around you that were all together and wanted the same things as you.”

Quite like a sports team, We the People spends time outside of class to work and practice. Working with local attorneys and in smaller groups, the We the People team have scrimmages on Sundays to prepare for competitions. Twilleager stated, “If you’re looking to take We the People, you should expect  a camaraderie amongst your classmates that you don’t have the most classes with, an environment that encourages you to want to learn more, and expect to be surrounded by fellow students and adults who want to help you feel better.”

Wright emphasized being a hard worker. “I came into the class with not a lot of political knowledge, I wasn’t that involved in politics or first in a lot of government-related issues, but I came in just as someone who was willing to work and liked debating. You learn a lot about government. With the media today, it’s so partisan and so bipolar on what you can see from different news sources that through this program, you have a good interpretation on your own behalf of what you think.”

While the school year started with 11 people, there are currently nine members. After winning the State competition in December, they made history in Indiana by being the smallest team to win State. “Your class sizes are anywhere between nine and 36, so that’s really special,” Twilleager said. As they head to Washington, D.C. for nationals, there will be about 56 other teams from across the country. “Class size will average from 18 to 36, and our little group of nine,” Twilleager said.

Garwood spoke about the friendships on the team. “People should expect to grow close to a different group of people than your friend group is. I knew about them but never really had a conversation, so with the amount of time that you spend together you really get know them for who they are and their beliefs. It’s really good to expand your friend group.” 

Garwood also notes how being open-minded is essential. “Coming in with an open mind is definitely necessary and coming with an open mind with new topics to challenge your reasoning.”

Wright faced one of his own biggest challenges. “Two days before the competition, I had to pick up and learn a different unit and all of its load,” Wright explained. This particular unit scored the most points at State. “It’s pretty impressive that we’re all doubling, but it adds so much more depth to your hearings.”

As for their own personal accomplishments, Garwood had been challenged using her voice. “I always had trouble speaking and getting dominated by the other two in the group, so I’d be intimidated to talk. When we go to Regional and State, I stepped up and was one of the key components because I had the radical opinions.” Her biggest accomplishment was being able to speak her own opinion, as well as the confidence of knowing the facts to support her argument.

Wright mentions knowing his own ability to work hard, but focuses on the team effort. “It’s not individualistic ideas because everything you do has two other people attached to it. Your success and downfalls rely on yourself, but also your unit mates.” 

Wright doesn’t only see his classmates as team, but a family. “The big thing is, the nine of us had become more like a family, so it’s more about not letting your family down and showing that you can work hard just as everybody else is doing. It’s an unwritten idea that everyone is going to work as hard as we can, and that’s really how we accomplished so much.”