First off let me apologize for taking so long to write.  Second let me apologize for how how long I sense this post is going to be…it is winter break and I have been up since 4 am and the coffee is warm and Christmas music is playing because Ally fell asleep to it on the couch in the living room.

This year I worked with both Hamilton Southeastern and Fishers High Schools as a judge and unit adviser; plus had my own team at Fishers Junior High School.  I believe in this program.  I believe in the power that this education brings to the students.  My beliefs in education is an amalgam of the 18th and 21st century with a little Socrates mixed in; We the People speaks to my beliefs.

Fishers Junior High We the People Team

We the People Team Photo at State - Dec 2015

I love these kids.  They are a great and powerful group who are masters of their fate and captains of their souls.  In the end they came up short, finishing second in the state to the great Brown County team.  Below is the email I send to the staff about them:

Well we finished second again to Brown County. The race was close again, but Brown County was just better.  Indiana has the strongest middle school program in the country because the Indiana state legislature funds the program.  The benefit is that everything is first class and over 100 middle schools participate.  The downside is that the best team in the country, Brown County Middle School, is in Indiana.  Brown County has been the state champion every year since 2009 (the first year) and until FJH arrived last year there was never a contest.  In addition to being Indiana State Champion, they have won the National Championship twice and were runners-up at Nationals last year only to a Washington DC private school dedicated to civics and government.  They are led by a great teacher, Mike Potts, who is a friend of mine.

Our kids did great.  We had great rounds.  We improved from last year, but we have some more steps to take.  Congratulate the kids if you see them.  They are disappointed, but they showed grace and poise the entire day.  They are a credit to Fishers Junior High and our district.

After analyzing scores (which some of you know is something that I loved to do) it was obvious how much we improved in the eyes of the judges from the previous year, but Brown County did the same thing.  They won 4 units (one by one point) and we won 2.  They won 7 rounds and we won 5.  So very close.

We were asked to compete at the National Invitational.  It was tempting; as the Equality of Outcome is always tempting.  I sent the below email to the powers that be to explain why will not attend Nationals until we finish first in the state.

Thank you for the reminder.  Our stance is unchanged on our attendance to the Invitational.  We hold fast to the idea that if we do not win Indiana we do not attend.  Our reasoning comes to the argument of Equality of Opportunity versus Equality of Outcome.  If we attend without winning it is Equality of Outcome and then we (I and my students next year) do not have in incentive to work harder the next year.  Our school looks at Brown County’s dominance in Indiana as a good thing.  After raising our game in our second year we laid out our plan for next year and my principal has even rearranged our schedule next year to provide me more time with the kids.

I know this is a long explanation, but I want you all to realize our thought process.  Meg, I cannot wait to work with you one of these years on planning our trip.  I hope to  see you when I travel with the Fishers High School team in April.

We will spend the rest of the year working to be better; it says a lot about these kids that they want to get better.  Both Fishers and Hamilton Southeastern High School are going to receive great kids ready to compete.  All year and during state we read William Earnest Henley’s poem:


Henley’s words were their credo.  I cannot be more proud of them.  Their names are etched on to my heart.

Hamilton Southeastern High School We the People Team

HSEHS - We the People Photo - 2015-2016

These kids also finished second in state.  I only knew one person on this team (Nailah), but their teacher is someone special to me.  Janet Chandler’s team was a joy to judge on Sunday’s (put many a NFL game on delay).  These kids are talented and have a genuine love of learning.  Each week they grew; their arguments improved and their ability to converse with thought and poise stood out.  They won two unit awards at State and neither award surprised me.

My Unit 6 kids (Nailah, Matt, and Jenna) were great.  Wednesday after school became our day and Taco Bell became our meeting spot (free Wifi and soda refills).  What always struck me about them was that they were always running to the next obligation.  I don’t know how they kept everything in balance. They all speak with passion and are models for civic involvement.  I will look forward to watching how each will change the world.

There is no doubt in my mind if these kids were to earn a wild-card invite to Nationals that they would finish in the Top 10; they are that good.

Fishers High School We the People Team

Fishers High School - We the People Photo 2015-2016Team Indiana!  Now this is a team that I knew a little better.  Some I helped recruit as they were counselors for me and they were a great fit for We the People.  Morgan joined Halley Rose as my former Students of the Year who will take a team to Nationals in Washington DC.

These kids are wildly talented.  Judging them each week was a joy (except when Timers called time on me when we were in the middle of great arguments–a few objects were tossed).  The month prior to State is where they morphed into a championship team.  They pushed. They learned.  They got better.  This team has a good chance to beat the Indiana record that the Fishers team from two years ago set with a 4th place finish Nationals. Oregon is their Brown County.  I look forward to watching them work towards their goal.

FHS - Unit 2 - Champion Picture

My Unit 2 kids.  Tuesday night was our night.  At my house with coffee and hot chocolate.  Editing papers and talking for hours (sometimes past my 9 o’clock bedtime).  They were never Unit of the week at practice, but when it counted they earned Top Unit at State!  Emma is holding their hard earned Unit award at state.  I have thanked Liz many times for these kids.

Foolishly, I promised my 8th grade team that I would not retire until I took them to Nationals their Senior Year.  This extends out my plans and delays my application to law school.

We the People is the best educational program in the country.  I will quote from one of my kids who wrote the following to me in her Christmas letter:

This past semester I’ve definitely found out how much work your class can be, but I’ve also found out that I don’t even mind all the extra hours of homework, because I love the homework.  I don’t think I would have fell in love with a class like I have this year.  So I guess to sum it up, I would just like to thank you for making We the People possible this semester.  It has given me a reason to look forward to going to school.  It has given me a life path/passion, because I have never loved doing something so much, not even swimming.