Constitution Team Concluded
February 28, 2017 • 215 views
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Cleveland’s first-ever Constitution team debuted their talents at state, concluding the year on a high note by placing sixth. Formed by history teacher Sadie Adams, the team had tremendous success this season, especially with it being the team’s first.
The team made it to state, which was extremely thrilling for the members as well as the Cleveland community. “Our pipe dream was making it to state, so the fact that we made it to state, that is a win for this first year of having a Cleveland Constitution Team,” Adams explained. “That’s more than we could’ve expected, and it’s pretty awesome.”
The students and coaches never expected to make it this far with their amount of experience with the program, but the time and effort members put in contributed to their success. When the team was first created, their focus was getting them going and ready to compete, even if they were not expecting to make it as far as they got this season.
Students have been working non-stop since summer to create compelling arguments and answers for competitions. “We would just go as far in as we could and just become so familiarized with the content that whatever they asked us… we could answer with confidence as much as we could. We wouldn’t just be like ‘I don’t know.’ Everything surrounding the general subject was in our knowledge area, and it sounds really harsh and it sounds really boring, but it’s really fun,” junior Brooklyn Pierce said.
Team members set out to comprehend, prepare, and achieve as much knowledge surrounding the Constitution as they could. Students spent their time doing “a lot of studying,” sophomore Sophie Friedenwald-Fishman described. “We definitely read the Constitution, a lot of articles, we learned a lot about case law and case studying, and stuff like that, and then we worked as a team and we did a lot of practicing, because we got three questions that we had to prepare answers for and memorize, so we memorized all of those and then we had to prepare for questions we wouldn’t know, so it was a lot of studying and practicing with friends.”
The questions they got at the competition all related to different parts of the Constitution, depending on their unit. The team prepared in the summer, however they would still get six minutes of freestyle questions at the competitions relating to either what the original prepared question was about or anything involving the Constitution, current events, or other law-based questions. The team had to conduct as much research as they could surrounding their question and subject to answer with deep and insightful knowledge.
The team competed in units of four students each. Each unit focused on a different aspect of the Constitution, so each group could go really in-depth with their subject. Having these units made for a better competition, however, state was complicated when some units were split. Because of the snowy weather this year, state was pushed back a week, conflicting with the Washington, D.C. trip this past January. Adams led the trip, but she was also the Constitution team’s team captain, creating a hardship on the whole team. The problem grew as several students and coaches who also attended the trip who were not able to compete or coach alongside their units. One unit even went down from four people to two, leaving the two available competitors to take on the tough task of increased memorization and executing their presentations with fewer people.
With the lack of members available to compete, the members felt that the dynamics of the team had shifted, but they still managed to pull it off at state. “I think that had the entire team and all the coaches and I had been there, we possibly would’ve placed higher, because they did a phenomenal job at regionals,” Adams said. “I think because of the weather and the interruptions to our practices and the delay of the competition, I think that that impacted us a lot, but nonetheless, I am ridiculously proud of these guys for working their butts off to get to state this year.” The Cleveland team ended up placing sixth at state which was a win to everyone on the team. Grant high school ended up winning first and Lincoln earned second.
Being together for the last semester, the whole team bonded in a way they never thought they could. “We did spend a lot of time in this ring for these kids to get to know each other, and I think that that helped probably the most in really taking the time to figure out who each other is, and then also getting to know the coaches and building those relationships with the coaches, so they get along too well sometimes now,” Adams mentioned. “It’s like I have a class of 24 siblings. It’s kind of nuts. Now we’re down a few because we’re in Economics and we had a few juniors on the team, but they have become really good friends, and I think that establishing those relationships at the beginning is really important to having that dynamic of the team and getting them to work well together.”
Now that the Constitution team accomplished their goal of making it to state, their goal is to continue what they have already started. Adams is still taking applications to create next year’s team. Her hope is that once a team is already set, they will be able to improve on what was already a successful turnout and make it to state once again.
Students who were involved in the team were passionate about the whole competition scene and learning about their own country’s history through a very important document. “It’s a really great opportunity, and I think a lot of people should do it because even though it sounds like a lot of work, which it is, it’s definitely worth it. You get to know more about the Constitution and how the government works, and especially with the political climate at Cleveland, you kind of get the whole entire backstory to how it all started,” sophomore team member Tiffany Vo said. “No matter how far we got, it was still an accomplishment. Being at state was like the trophy itself. Not many ‘first years’ get to go to state, which is insane because Cleveland did it, so obviously we’re doing something right.”