Johnstown High School seniors Calyer Fagan, Brianne Hansen, and Kiersten Pelosi were awarded top honors for their category in the New York State We the People competition held Saturday at Martin Luther King Jr. High School in New York City.
We the People is a competition in which high school students create speeches that answer rigorous questions about the U.S. Constitution, government and current events. A panel of judges then asks the students challenging, open-ended questions regarding their assigned topic. The students must answer the questions extemporaneously, without being able to refer to notes.
Fagan, Hansen, and Pelosi were assigned to Unit 4, which required the seniors to discuss the powers our nation’s Framers gave the executive branch, as well as the Framers’ fears of moving to a more powerful executive.
There were 18 JHS students who travelled to New York City to compete in the event. All of the students prepared for the competition as part of their Advanced Placement Politics Leadership and Economics (A.P.P.L.E) course taught by social studies teacher Sean Russo. Johnstown faced six other schools from throughout New York State, including NYC and Long Island.
The judges, almost all of whom were lawyers, consistently complimented all of the JHS seniors for their thorough knowledge an understanding of the challenging governmental topics.
Several local community leaders helped the seniors prepare for the competition by coming into the classroom as guest judges and providing the students with valuable feedback. These guest judges included Johnstown Mayor Vern Jackson, Fulton County District Attorney Chad Brown, Fulton County Assistant District Attorney Amanda Nellis, Fulton County Supervisor Gregory Young, Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education member Beverly Alves, and Attorney Allen Day.
The students wish to thank the Johnstown Parent Teacher Association, as well as other local residents, whose generous donations made it possible to participate in this valuable learning experience.