SHERIDAN — The students who comprise the Sheridan High School We the People team showed the judges what they know about American history, government and philosophy Monday.
The team won the state competition after months of preparation that began in September. Teacher and team coach Michael Thomas said every time the students compete at state they have to perform with the best.
“Everybody wants to win. Everyone wants to earn the chance to travel to Washington, D.C., and compete at a national level,” Thomas said Monday night. “I think more importantly than winning is the students learning about American government, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and politics. I know that our country is in good hands because these students are leaders.”
SHS has a tradition of being among the best in the state.
The team won five state titles in a row before last year. The team has reclaimed that title for this year’s contest.
Thomas noted that before the contest, the students were asked to testify before the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee about what the We the People program has taught them.
“This was an opportunity for government to come alive for these students. What an amazing experience,” Thomas said.
As part of the program, students in the class break into groups and work on six units to prove their knowledge and expertise. Each year, the questions in the units vary but tend to follow general themes that include philosophy of government, the U.S. Constitution and the Constitutional Convention, political parties and constitutional amendments, the branches of government, Bill of Rights and current events.
The students in unit six — which focused on challenges facing American constitutional democracy — received the lowest score for the team at the district competition.
But, in Cheyenne, that same group earned recognition as the school’s top performing unit.
“The students were not happy with their district score performance and set out on a mission to be the best,” Thomas said. “The message the whole year — I guess you could call it our team motto — is ‘if you want to take the island, burn the ships.’”
The students will now begin preparing for the national competition set for this spring in Washington, D.C.