TRUMBULL Conn. — The We the People team from Trumbull High School won eighth place in the nation after competing in the final rounds of the competition on Capitol Hill on Monday.
The team learned that it had made the Top 10 in weekend competition in Maryland, securing a berth for the top spot, which went to Lincoln High School of Portland, Ore.
Trumbull students testified in front of several state Supreme Court justices and explained the different levels of strict scrutiny with support from various Supreme Court cases, said teacher Katie Boland, their adviser. The also discussed prosecutorial discretion with law school professors and district court justices.
"To see my students respond to the questions with eloquence, support, passion and case law was truly amazing," Boland said.
The Trumbull team has won the state championship five years in a row and took eighth place in the national competition two years ago.
Students said they considered the competition a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
"I am beyond proud and thankful to have been a part of this We the People Team," said senior Emily Ramsey. "The friendships that were formed, the memories made, and the success we achieved will be with me for the rest of my life."
Her teammate Gabby Tropp agreed. "It was an amazing experience to talk to, and even impress, state Supreme Court justices, professional lawyers, and professors," she said. "The pride I felt for my classmates every time they nailed an answer was immeasurable. I'm so grateful to have had this opportunity."
The Trumbull High squad has won for 21 of the 29 years the state competition, which promotes civic competence and responsibility in high school seniors, has existed. This year they bested strong teams from Greenwich High, Staples High in Westport, St. Joseph’s High in Trumbull, Torrington High, Immaculate High in Danbury and South Windsor High.
Trumbull takes the competition seriously. Interested juniors have to write an essay and have an interview to make the 24-member team. They read and complete assignments over the summer and take a yearlong AP course related to the competition, which also gives them UConn course credit.
Boland conducts the class like a college seminar with creative assignments, such as writing a eulogy for a founding father or creating press briefings on constitutional topics.
The students get plenty of practice at events such as Evening with the Experts, at which they present their memorized, four-minute speeches and take questions from the floor, or in online and in-person coaching from attorneys from New York City-based Schulte Roth & Zabel.
The late Rita Altieri started the We the People program at Trumbull High, said Boland, who has lead the team for five years.
Click here for more information on the national competition.