By Sarah Wang
The constitution of the United States starts with three famous words: “We the people.” Coincidentally, those three words also begin the name of Arcadia High School’s (AHS) We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution team. Over this past weekend, its brilliant members competed at the state competition but unfortunately did not advance to the national competition. But first, what does this team do?
We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution team, also known as Gov Team or Constitution Team, is part of a nationwide program sponsored by the Center for Civic Education. The team is divided into six units of 3-6 high school seniors, with each unit specializing in one area of the constitution, ranging from the Bill of Rights to modern day applications of the Constitution. Though specifics vary from school to school, the team is a yearlong course combined with AHS’s Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Economics class.
In the past, AHS’s team has qualified to nationals multiple times and even took home the national championship in 2010. This year, the team snagged first place at the regional level competition in order to move on to states.
Early Friday morning, Gov Team members as well as their adviser and AHS history teacher, Ms. Megan Leahy, boarded a bus and made their way up to Sacramento. On Saturday, the team members spent more than half the day inside the California Capitol building committee hearing room, where they testified and answered questions in front of a panel of judges—an undoubtedly daunting experience. “My unit competed last, so knowing we had to end on a strong note was a bit nerve-wracking,” agreed Unit 5 member Aaron Wu, “and unfortunately, not advancing to nationals was disappointing because the entire team had prepared nearly half a year for this singular competition.”
However, the members say they wouldn’t trade the “Gov Love” experience for a thing. “Not making nationals and cutting Constitution Team short is definitely a regret of mine, but going out of my comfort zone and spending so much time with the team was far from it,” shared Unit 1 member Aditya Bhawal, “Sure, some of what I learned may not be too useful after competitions, such as Thomas Hobbes’ Social Contract or what Aristotle thought of democracy, but I would be lying to you if I said that I didn’t enjoy learning, studying, and debating every bit of it.” He and his teammates believe they have become “more civically minded, well-rounded people” and found that their experience in Gov Team not only made them more knowledgeable citizens but also better humans altogether. “We may not have made it to Washington D.C., but nothing can ever take that away from me,” Bhawal proclaimed proudly.
Looking to the future, Gov Team members have high hopes for their successors. Wu advises that anyone looking to join Gov Team should simply “just keep up with national and international news on the daily.”
Congratulations to this year’s Gov Team for making it to the state competition and best of luck to those to come.