APPSE Team to DC Again!

On Saturday morning of January 14, 2012, Wauwatosa West’s We the People Team participated in the state We the People: the Citizen and the Constitution competition at Marquette University.

Despite fears that the competition would not take place this year due to budget cuts on a national level, this year’s We the People state competition took place as planned. Students arrived at Marquette early in the morning, beginning their mock-congressional hearings around 10:30.

As in years past, West’s team competed against the two APPSE (American Public Policy Special Emphasis) teams from Wauwatosa East High School as well as a team from South Milwaukee. Students from Hartford also participated, but theirs was an exhibition team, so though they presented statements and answered follow-up questions, they were not in the running to win.

Each of the teams was broken into 6 small units, each of which had a particular emphasis. In competition, each unit presented a four-minute statement, followed by six minutes of follow-up questions posed by the judges. Despite all the preparation done by West team members, many were still nervous. “The tension in the room was really high,” said Unit 1 leader Erin Stapleton. “We were all holding our breath when a unit was at the table, counting on them to do their best. We had all worked so hard… we couldn’t have afforded a slip.”

Later in the afternoon, announcements were made regarding the winners of the state competition. West placed first for the fifth year running, followed by East’s fourth-hour team. Because there are several states that are not participating in Nationals this year, some participating states will be sending more than one team. Wisconsin is one such state. For this reason, both West’s team and East’s fourth-hour team will be heading to Nationals on April 27-May 1 this spring at George Mason University in Virginia.

Though the excitement of the win is a bit tempered by this news, West students are still enthusiastic about the outcome of the state competition. Annie Albers, the leader of Unit 4, was especially excited about the win: “I thought it was one of the best things I’ve ever done before,” she said. “All of our hard work paid off!” This is echoed by Unit 3 member Jordan Llanas, who remarked, “As a class we really pulled it together and performed our best.”