MSHS We the People Team qualifies for national event

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Now that the Marquette Senior High School “We the People” team is headed to the National Finals, the group looking for financial support…while they are still preparing for the difficult National level questions.

The team was selected based on their excellent performance at the We the People State Finals and will represent Michigan as a wildcard team in the national competition. Marquette has become a fixture at the We the People State Finals, finishing in the top three six of the last seven years. This will be the second consecutive year that MSHS will travel to the National Finals as the Michigan Wild Card team.

“I am very proud of these students,” said their teacher and coach, Fred Cole, an MSHS Social Studies teacher. “Michigan is usually a Top 10 team at Nationals, so this is quite an accomplishment. The students worked very hard for this, and were very patient as the wildcard process played out over the past six weeks.”

The MSHS We the People team has recently been invited to participate in the 31st annual We the People National Finals competition in Washington, D.C. in April where students participate in simulated congressional hearings. Students testify as constitutional experts before panels of judges acting as congressional committees scoring the groups through a performance-based assessment.

Each class is divided into six groups based on the six units of the We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution high school textbook. Each hearing begins with a four-minute prepared opening statement by students and is followed by a six-minute period of follow-up questioning during which a panel of judges probe students’ depth of knowledge, understanding, and their ability to apply constitutional principles to current and historic examples.

During the six-minute follow up period, the students are completely on their own – no notes or other materials are allowed. The format provides students an excellent opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles.

“We the People is one of the best learning experiences I have ever undertaken with students in my 27 years of teaching,” said Mr. Cole. “Students over the years have made comments like ‘I have learned more from this competition than I would in a whole year of a class.’”

We the People alums often come back during winter break from college to coach the next year’s students.

“Even I am surprised that students are so pumped up to learn about the Constitution!” said Mr. Cole.

Attorneys who serve as judges at local and state competitions are very impressed with the students’ understanding and remark that they did not learn many of these topics until law school.

The 31st Annual We the People National Finals will be held April 27-30, 2018 at the National Conference Center just outside Washington, D.C. Classes qualify for the National Finals by placing first in their state competition or through wild card availability.

The cost for the National Finals is over $1600 per student, which includes airfare, lodging, meals, ground transportation, all meals, and other costs of participating in the tournament. The team is seeking contributions from individuals, businesses, service clubs, and local professional organizations, especially for the team members whose families qualify for free lunch under federal guidelines.

Checks can be made out to “MSHS We the People” and mailed to MSHS We the People, 1203 West Fair Avenue, Marquette, MI 49855. Contributions can also be made at www.gofundme.com/mshs-we-the-people.

“We are very excited to represent Michigan and the U.P.,” said Mr. Cole. “The students have a huge challenge in front of them, but they are excited to take it on. And we really appreciate all the support we have received in the past from the Marquette community. We hope that continues this year.“

While in Washington, D.C., students will also be able explore the nation’s capital, learn about government beyond the classroom walls, and meet with elected officials and other dignitaries.

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