AP Government competes at We The People

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Students from Social Studies teacher Linda Steinmann’s Band 9 A.P. U.S. Government class competed in the National Competition, We The People: The Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Ms. Debra Lesser and the Justice Resource Center sponsored the December 8 event, which was held at Martin Luther King Jr. Campus in Manhattan. The competition consisted of timed question sessions ranging from 6 different units focused on American Politics. Each of the schools had individual teams focused on one of the units. Judges would evaluate the performance on each of these units and separately score an overall performance by the schools.   Townsend Harris was among various other school teams throughout the city, all of which were competing for the state competition in Albany. Some schools seemed very well prepared as they had individual clubs and classes dedicated to the activity.  Townsend Harris went on to place third overall in the city, and first in their second unit. Unfortunately, only the top two teams were able to move on to Albany, as Townsend narrowly missed the states competition.

Each unit in the competition was ranked by school along with the overall rankings. The Unit two team that placed first consisted of Muhammad Altaf, Constantine Bournias, and Wilmer Montesdeoca. “We were so nervous that we were shaking before we had to present our speech,” said Wilmer. However, once we started speaking, our fears faded and everything else fell into place. When they asked us questions, we were able to feed off each other and have a conversation with the judges, which they really seem to like,”  Muhammad said, “I didn’t know how well we would do at the end of the day. I felt really nervous when the judges came in, but it turned out to be a success. I’m really happy my group prevailed, and that we never gave up.”

Other members of the team shared their thoughts on the competition. Senior Anthony Kissoon said, “I thought it was a great learning experience and I’m really proud of our team. We seemed like we really knew our stuff even though we were so pressed for time when it came to preparing for the competition.”

“Although we were quite anxious about presenting in front of the judges, I thought we were well-prepared,” said Senior Fatime Uruci.  “When the results were announced, it was tough knowing that we just missed States, but I couldn’t be more proud of us for placing 3rd in such an intense competition.”

Senior Carlamarie Rodriguez also said,  “I think the We The People competition was an enriching experience that exposed me to valuable ways of thinking, expressing myself, and connecting historical and modern events.”

“Representing Townsend Harris at the “We the People” competition was a wonderful and rewarding privilege,” said Senior Omar Rafael. “Kudos to my fellow classmates, as this was something I think we did exceptionally well. Although we unfortunately came up a spot short of moving on to Albany, our performance is something we can be proud of.”

Dr. Steinmann’s other AP students showed their support of the We The People Team. Jesse Reiff of Band 8 said, “Even though we looked forward to competing, we happily sat on the sidelines cheering on our friends and classmates in 9th band, and couldn’t have been prouder of their 3rd place win.”

Dr. Steinmann expressed her pride in Band 9, and explained how they came into the We the People competition. “It was a really hard decision between Bands 8 and 9,” said Dr. Steinmann. “The Band 9 class acquitted themselves exceptionally well, and went on to place 3rd in the city. I’m very proud of our third place finish.”

She also mentioned the other benefits that came along with the victory.“The preparation is an excellent way to get ready for the AP exam,” she said. “The speeches are all counted as part of the grade for the 1st semester, while demonstrating exceptional knowledge of the Constitution and The Bill of Rights.  Hopefully we’ll continue with our success. We’ve gone to states every year from our start in 2005 to 2011, and just missed it this year.”