We the People

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On December 10, 2016, Townsend Harris High School took third place in the We The People competition.
The competition was divided into two parts. The first part of the competition entailed students conducting four minute speeches in response to predetermined questions. Senior Nicole Moshel stated that they “answered the prepared questions.”

During the second part of the competition, students had to think on the spot. Senior Leo Rodriguez said that the students had to “answer follow-up questions [they] knew nothing about.” He stated that they utilized their “knowledge of government to answer the questions properly.”

Students prepared extensively for the competition. Leo remarked that “The questions [were] pretty focused so we all needed to do specific research online in order to answer them.” Nicole agreed, saying that they “practiced answering the questions during class.” History teacher Dr. Linda Steinmann stated that the students “had to become experts on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”

The competition tested multiple aspects of public speaking. Leo said it tested his “ability to articulate ideas.” He also noticed that teamwork was a key factor in success, commenting that “optimizing each member of a group and using teamwork can push a group to succeed.” Dr. Steinmann also credited their success to teamwork, saying that “they need to depend on the other members of their team to help when they cannot respond immediately.”

Dr. Steinmann is not new to success in this competition, however. The class went “to Albany in 2010 and came in second in the state, only 4 points behind the state champions.”

Overall, Leo said that the most important aspect of the competition was to “stand by your ideas and mean what you say. If you mean what you say, then you can back it up and come up with a strong argument. It’s important to have opinions and let them be known! That makes an impact. It made an impact on our judges.”

The class will be competing in the state finals in Albany on February 11, 2017.