Wauwatosa East and West Student News

The Tosa Compass

Wauwatosa East and West Student News

The Tosa Compass

Wauwatosa East and West Student News

The Tosa Compass

Wauwatosa West and East Competes in National ‘We the People’ Competition in Washington D.C.


“Being in D.C. is a really amazing experience and I’m really glad to be here. I’m excited to compete and we worked really hard,” said Tosa West sophomore Peyton Goeden, Unit 5. On April 13th and 14th, 2024, both East and West APPSE teams participated in the We The People: The Citizen and the Constitution National Finals in Washington, D.C. The teams prepared for over ten months for the competition and competed against 48 other teams, with West placing 13th and East placing 29th.

The We The People competition is a national civics competition between teams from across the United States, in which students from different schools compete against each to show their deep understanding of the constitution and the principles of American democracy. They demonstrate this in a variety of ways throughout the competition, but primarily towards the end of the competition when students have to sit in front of a panel of judges, acting as members of congress, and simulate a congressional hearing where they are expert witnesses asked questions by the judges and have to answer according to their knowledge of constitutional principles, while doing this students can take and defend positions on important contemporary issues. The competition is conducted by the Center for Civic Education. The center’s self described goal is to “promote an enlightened and responsible citizenry committed to democratic principles and actively engaged in the practice of democracy.” This competition has been going on for over 40 years, with the earliest competition being in 1988.

“As a TA, we mostly just do Q&A prep. We meet at school at 6:30 in the morning, three times a week. Students do research outside of class. I think the juniors are gonna do pretty well. I’m excited to see what kind of questions the judges ask. It’s interesting to hear what conversations they have with the students,” says TA Adeline Golatke, a senior at Tosa East. Each school has one class divided into six different units, with each unit having about four competitors. Each unit prepares three questions during the year. One question of the three will be chosen on the first day of the competition, another on the second, and the third is only performed if a team makes the top ten (thus moving on to the competition’s final day).

Tosa West students left for the national competition early on Thursday, April 11th, to fly out to Washington D.C., while East students left the following day. Once in Washington D.C., the work did not stop. Between catered meals and touring, the APPSE students were reciting follow-up, reading their statements, and brushing up on current events. Some even worked to apply what they learned from the monuments to their competition answers. Each evening, once they returned from the day’s excursions, West students participated in late-night study sessions where they would prepare from all three of their questions. Finally, at a time too late to mention, they’d hit the hay.

The competition began on Saturday, April 13th. The students were oriented in the National Conference Center, just outside of Washington, D.C. in Leesburg, Virginia. Once siphoned off into their respective rooms, the hearings commenced. Each unit received four minutes to read their statements, followed by eight minutes of follow-up. The questioning ranged anywhere from contemporary issues to the historic lens. Needless to say, it was tricky. And with the cameras pointed at Tosa West, the kids and adults in the room really felt the pressure. Competing took four hours, and when finished, the schools hopped on their buses and went straight back to touring.

Day two of the competition was equally as stressful. The process of reading and questioning was repeated. Now, with one question down, the units had a better idea of what question they’d get next. However, nothing was guaranteed. And to add to the schools’ stress, this night would be when the Top Ten teams are announced. But no matter the outcome, East and West put the pedal to the metal, performing to the best of their abilities.

That evening, schools from across the nation were gathered in the National Conference Center for the top ten announcement. The stress was undoubted, but the students could rely on each other for friendship and support. JourneyLove Taylor, a junior from Tosa West’s Unit 6, told use that night she was feeling “very excited yet nervous to find out what our results are. Performing today was an amazing, exhilarating feeling and I know that I felt very connected with my panel, and we all answered really well.”

Whether it be the units, or the class as a whole, both West and East’s APPSE teams are tight-knit and resilient groups of kids. They knew that they could rely on one another to complete their work and perform to the best of their abilities. They trusted each other.

Later that night, the top ten results were announced. Unfortunately, the competition for both schools was over, but despite the outcome, the bonds formed between students were not tested. They were proud of each other and their performance. As Tosa West APPSE teacher Mr. Chad Mateske quotes, “Control the controllables.”

The trip ended on a high note with the Tosa West team receiving a unit award for Unit 1. The final results of the competition weren’t received by the students until Tuesday, April 30th. Both East and West performed extremely well.

With this year drawing to a close, it will be thrilling to see the future of the APPSE program in the Wauwatosa School District. If you are interested in more information, be on the lookout for “Citizen Nation” PBS docu-series that follows 2023-2024 ‘We the People’ classes nationwide, including Wauwatosa West, airing in October of this year.

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