Support Kweller Prep, sponsor of The Classic:
Recently, Townsend Harris High School was awarded honorable mentions in the state finals of the We the People competition in Albany.
Students were able to attend the competition of February 11 following a third place win in the NYC competition on December 10, 2016. History teacher Dr. Linda Steinmann stated that “in order to qualify for the State Final, the students had to become experts on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”
The state final was also divided into two parts, similar to the NYC competition. Senior Maressa Cumberback described the first part of the competition as a segment where students were required to give a speech based off a predetermined prompt.
As the competition progressed onto the second part of the competition, students were further challenged and featured under the spotlight to answer questions “without notes and without prior knowledge of the questions.” Then, they were asked follow-up questions for six more minutes.
The students prepared thoroughly prior to the competing. Senior Alex Chen described the process, explaining how they went over their own unit of conditional law as well as reviewing any practice questions that would help their performance. Maressa agreed, adding that the THHS competitors revised and practiced their speeches with one another. She also accredited Dr. Steinmann and Ms. Oberlander for their help towards the team, especially with their prior experience with the competition. She continued to mention that each student “then prepared as much as possible on their own” and even “made sure to prepare the night before in [their] hotel rooms.”
Ultimately, they were able to receive well-deserved acknowledgment for their performance. Alex remarked, “This is the farthest a team from Townsend has gone for some time, and the experience in Albany was exciting so [I am] very satisfied with how the competition went.” Maressa also expressed her great satisfaction towards the results: “What . . . we did best was making our speeches more like conversations. In the city’s competition, this is something we were told we needed to work on. We did our best to do so and I think it paid off.”
Dr. Steinmann also agreed, commenting, “They did very well this year.” She also provided some insight for a “more passionate presentation,” saying that becoming more familiar with their speeches would be especially helpful. Dr. Steinmann continued on to say that while THHS students normally present more “intellectual” speeches, the judges favored better performers. Alex and Maressa offered their own reflections on their year’s competition, believing that they could work on their preparations in knowing the necessary information as well as doing better in follow-up questions.
“I know we did our best and we are happy with how far we have come,” concluded Maressa.