Irvington’s We The People Victorious At States


Ved Mistry

This year, as the competition was held on Zoom, each school participated while staying in their own breakout room, as the judges came and went for each round.

In an outstanding performance, Irvington’s We The People (WTP) team won the California state-level competition on Saturday, Feb. 6th, and is now set to compete in the April 2021 National Tournament.

We The People is an advanced placement program for Irvington seniors, where they learn a rigorous curriculum of history, government and law, and use that information to craft testimonies for competitions.  Compared to AP Government/Economics, We The People covers more complex material and is closer to a graduate-level political science course. Within the class itself, six different groups called ‘units’ are formed, each of which focus on different aspects of constitutional history and law. At the competitions, units present their four-minute ‘testimony,’ a well-prepared and researched speech involving topics like the framing of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and how constitutional history applies to 21st century issues. The units then go on to answer the judges’ questions about the testimonies for eight minutes. 

On Feb. 6th, there was a close competition between Irvington and two rival schools, Foothill High and Amador Valley High, both located in Pleasanton. Irvington’s intense preparation, involving many weeks of research and practice, allowed them to outcompete the other schools and win the state tournament. It was a historic victory, since the last and only time Irvington WTP qualified for Nationals was about 15 years ago.  

“Irvington, for so long, was the perennial fourth place finisher,” says Mr. Martinez, the team coach and teacher. “We would be in the top of the pack, but we just could never kind of break into that top three…So to finally break through this year…in sort of undefeated fashion, and then to finish it off with a state champion, you can imagine what it might be like.”

We The People has had many positive impacts on the seniors in the course, whether it’s personal growth or improved writing skills. Although not all of these seniors will  choose a history or law profession in the future, the critical skills that they acquire from this class are still beneficial.

“I joined We The People because…I have a high regard for the law,” shares Felicia Mo (12). “We The People really perpetuates that regard for the law; I think learning more about it…kind of helped me personally, with my vision, with my goals in the future.”

Other than the minor logistical issues and a lack of social interaction, the COVID-19 Pandemic has fortunately not created a substantial negative impact on WTP. The program has even benefited from online learning in some aspects, since it is easier to meet up outside of school hours and share knowledge and research.

“The program has gone off without a hitch…we haven’t had to sacrifice really much of anything.” Mr. Martinez remarks. “Over zoom, I’m able to pull up resources as we’re having debriefs, and I can just drop them right in the chat.”

Even though Irvington WTP has achieved success so far, Nationals in late April will be a very challenging tournament to win. Not only does it involve competing side-by-side with Foothill High, which received a ‘wild-card’ spot in the finals, but it also means that Irvington will have to face off against a wider variety of schools across the U.S.

“I think for nationals, we need to go really in-depth in a lot of topics and improve in a lot of different ways,” says Arjun Bothra (12). “It’s going to be a lot more difficult…we don’t only have to have a focus on California politics, we have to be aware of more diverse perspectives.”

As the National competition appears to be the next big challenge, Irvington’s We The People team is excited and poised for their preparation in the upcoming weeks.