At Corona del Sol High School, it’s
common to find crowds of
support for sporting events. But
on Dec. 8, the parking lot was packed
for a different reason. It was a day that
almost 350 students, from 14 schools
across the Valley (plus their families
and coaches), had been looking
forward to: this year’s “We the People”
We the People, also known as
Competition Government—or, in the
students’ vernacular, Comp Gov—is
comprised of seniors with an
acknowledged thirst for knowledge
about the Constitution.
The program began 25 years ago to
coincide with the month and day of the
Constitution’s signing 200 years
About 60 Corona students applied
last school year; only 30 made the cut.
Members of that elite group have been
studying their assigned unit since the
end of the last school year, when their
names were announced.
Jovonnie Quintero, a student on the
Comp Gov team, said participation
requires a broad commitment to
understanding the U.S. Constitution, as
well a sense of academic
“We the People is a civic education
class that contains six units, each
specializing in different aspects of the
“It ranges from the philosophical
foundations the framers had to the
issues the Constitution faces today,” he
Mastery of a daunting list of required
material is a must.
“For competitions, we have three
questions, each dealing with different
topics of your unit. The judge will ask
you one of the three questions, you
present your speech.
“Afterwards, you have a six-minute
rebuttal session. They look for things
like responsiveness, constitutional
application and balance. They evaluate
you as a unit, and whichever school has
the highest scores wins the
Corona placed first at the regional
competition on Dec. 8 and will now
prepare for the state competition,
scheduled Jan. 12. The winner at that
event will advance to the national
competition, scheduled to be held in
Washington, D.C., in April.
The Corona team has made it to
nationals 13 times since getting started
with the program in 1987; during that
stretch, it has placed four times among
the Top 10.
While the participants do much of
the preparation on their own, their
guidance comes from a Corona faculty
member, Tim Smith, who has overseen
the students’ participation since the
program’s birth, and has been coaching
the team since 1994.
“I have been impressed with the level
of dedication this team has shown in
preparation for competition and their
first place finish at the (Dec. 8) district
competition,” Smith said.
Corona history teacher and We the
People assistant coach Lisa Adams,
who’s been involved in the program for
20 years, has high anticipation of
what’s to come for the team.
“The hope is always that our students
will be successful and are able to win
the state competition,” she said.
“Arizona is a very strong We the
People state; we are very competitive.
It comes down to who has the best day
at State. As is Corona’s tradition, our
team is very strong and very capable.”
As much as the faculty members and
school administration express pride in
the team’s accomplishments, the
school’s younger students see the
competition as a “carrot on a stick” to
challenge their own academic mettle.
Junior Laraib Mughal said he plans to go out for the team next year after
hearing about how much her peers
“I love the idea of having so much
knowledge about one topic and being
so passionate about it, not necessarily
debating but voicing your opinion
about it. Comp Gov gives you the
chance of doing just that,” she said.
“I hope to gain valuable skills of
speaking; more knowledge about our
Constitution, our laws and our
government and, of course, a group of
Alex Karr was one of a number of the
school’s alumni who dropped by to
watch the competition and to cheer on
this year’s participants.
“I was in the program last year, and
it was one of the best experiences of my
high school career. It actually has made
me consider going to law school, or at
least continue studying the
Constitution and participating in
government some way.
“I’m even going to intern with the
Arizona Foundation for Legal Services
and Education in the spring because I
want to help out with the program,” she
“I’m thrilled Corona won; they really
worked hard and their presentations
were stellar. I was blown away by their
skills, even so early in the competition.”
Faculty adviser Smith used the
occasion to suggest that parents of
current and prospective team members
consider making a tax-credit donation
before midnight Dec. 31 to help the
program remain financially viable.
“If the community would like to
support our team they can make a
contribution to our Youth in
Government Club,” he said.
“Contributions will go towards
supplies and resources needed to
support the team.”
Quintero, among the other
supporters and students, expressed her
excitement over the team coming out
on top at the competition.
“We won District! It was such a great
moment because it showed how much
work every one put into this,” he said.
“Everyone in that class is so
dedicated and we all strive to do our
“All the hard work paid off, and I’m
really proud of everyone in my class.”