Passion for government launches Corona on a quest for best in U.S.

Story by Chelsea Martin

It’s official. Corona del Sol High
School’s Competition Government
team, under the guidance of
teacher Tim Smith, earned bragging
rights at the “We the People” Arizona
state tournament on Jan. 6.
The team will represent Arizona
in the 27th annual We the People
National Finals April 26-28 on the
campus of George Mason University in
Fairfax, Va.
This year’s state win—Corona’s
14th—has special significance for
Smith: he’s due to retire at the end of
this school year.
Of his tenure with the program,
Smith says he’s grateful for the
experience. “It’s been a really fun time
doing it,” Smith said. “I couldn’t think
of a better way to end my last year
“We the People” comprises a
student competition on the U.S.
Constitution and Bill of Rights that
originated in 1987 to commemorate the
Bicentennial of the Constitution. The
event’s format resembles a simulated
Congressional Hearing in which
student panels formulate a four-minute
prepared opening statement followed
by a six-minute series of questions by a
panel of judges.
The students are evaluated
on their understanding of the
Constitution, use of historical examples
and application of current events
to the topic being discussed. The
National Finals will provide a new
set of sophisticated questions for the
Corona has a long tradition of
quality teams that Smith says he is
proud to have coached.
During Smith’s 20 years with the
program, the CdS team has had five
top 10 finishes at the National Finals,
with a sixth-place finish at the finals in
2013. This year’s team is composed of
30 students and four coaches.
Student competitors include
Evan Anderson, Rohit Badia, Natalia
Baker, Patric Cao, Halie Carpenter,
Andy Chang, Elizabeth Cheney, Rajeev
Chhetri, Lilian Engel, Sean Ewen and
Sarah Galvin.
Others are Gabrielle Geene,
Kevin Grout, Amy Hong, Ben Imadali,
Kyler Johnson, Hannah Kimball,
Musashi Lowe, Bryce Manning, Manny
Martinez, Nick Martinez, Laraib
Mughal, Kanin Pruter, Nicki Redmond,
Megan Rowland, Shimoli Shah, Vatsal
Shah, Edward Shin, Julie Song and
Brynn Wheeler.
The coaches are Smith, Justine
Centanni, Lisa Adams and Ali Rund.
Students study six units in the
We the People textbook that address
the challenges that face a democratic
republic today.
Teams are formed on each of
the units and students prepare their
statements for the simulated hearing.
They spend months leading up to the
competition seeking knowledge and
fine-tuning their statements with the
help of their coaches and the group’s
active alumni.
Corona’s team will start preparing
their statements for nationals starting
at the end of February.
Smith is confident in his team.
“This is a very talented bunch.
They are a quick study and work
extremely well in a group,” Smith said.
The program goes far beyond the
classroom for each and every one of the
“These students study government
so thoroughly that they get excited
and passionate about what’s really
happening in our government today,”
Smith said. “Their goal is to make it to
finals, because if your team makes the
cut, you actually get to experience the
rest of the competition in the hearing
rooms on Capitol Hill.”
The team is in the process of
raising money and collecting donations
for their estimated $65,000 trip to D.C.
Singles interested in a tax credit
can contribute $200; for couples it’s
$400. All contributions must be made
in the CdS bookstore, made out to
Corona del Sol Youth in Government.
Information: 480-752-8888.

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