This is an article that I wrote for the school newspaper about a competiton.
|We the People
By Monika L. Brown
For about two weeks, two freshman history classes worked seemingly ceaselessly to learn the first unit of a textbook that mostly pertained to the U.S. Constitution. Groups were formed, notes were taken, essays were written and edited, and rehearsal presentations were done. All of these things were done for a competition called “We the People,” that targeted a student’s knowledge of the Constitution and early American history. This was the first year that Coventry High School participated in this competition.
Two teachers, Ms. Burt and Mr. Knutton, volunteered to have one of their classes participate. Since only one class from the school could go to the state finals, held at Cranston West High School on March 1st, the two classes were required to compete against each other. During the time spent on competition there were some competitive remarks between the classes, but of course, they were meant jokingly.
The two classes that were participating were asked to learn about the first unit in the book. Due to the limited amount of time, some of the students split up into groups and worked on certain parts, and then shared their knowledge with the rest of the class. There were three questions for that unit, and the response for each was required to be almost exactly four minutes long. It was made clear that it could not be over four minutes, due to the fact that the response would be timed, and the judges would ask you to stop there.
Students in both classes put much effort into the development of the responses. They were constantly undergoing editing. Words, sentences, and even parts of paragraphs were removed in order to shorten the paragraph. Certain aspects in essay structures were changed to make them sound more developed. After a few days, the responses were complete. Five people from each class had volunteered to read them, and each class performed several practice presentations to be sure that the essays were as close to four minutes long as possible. After the essays were practiced numerous times, the parts that each person would be reading were established.
On February 29th, at noon, the two classes were judged on their presentations. The judges asked the group from each class a different question. After the presentations were read, the judges asked several follow-up questions. In the end, it was decided that Ms. Burt’s class would go to the state competition the next morning. After waiting out in the hallway for five minutes, the five students from Ms. Burt’s class, who I was one of, were given the good news. The excitement followed us for the rest of the day.
The next morning, I entered the cafeteria at Cranston West High School to find my classmates reading through the responses to the three different questions. There was a high level of anxiety among all of us, and I actually recall that I was shaking at one point. When it was our turn to present, we entered a classroom where the three judges were waiting. It was a very relaxed setting, and after we were asked our question, we read through our response smoothly, and proceeded to answer the follow-up questions. After we finished, the judges, who were all women, asked us what we thought of “We The People,” and what we wanted to do as adults.
When we left the room, we waited for about twenty minutes before the winning school was announced. It was not us, since we had only done one unit for a short amount of time, but we received third out of the four schools competing. The school that won was very deserving, and had worked intensely on it for about four months, and had also worked on it in previous years. Although we didn’t win, we all agree that it was a very good experience, and we are glad that we chose to pursue it until the end.