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Both Wauwatosa public high schools headed to National Finals in competition about the constitution

January 15, 2020


East High School APPSE Team 2020

(Pictured: Members of Wauwatosa East High School's American Public Policy Special Emphasis (APPSE) Team after winning the state meet in Madison January 11th.)


Students from both Wauwatosa public high schools will once again compete on the national stage at this year's We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution National Finals at the National Conference Center in Washington D.C. April 24-27, 2020.


Wauwatosa East High School’s team earned its ticket to the national competition by winning its first state title in more than 10 years during the state competition in Madison on January 11th. The team has traveled to nationals the past few years on a Wild Card selection.


“First place at the state competition has always evaded us due to the immensely talented team and coaches over at Tosa West,” said Dan McHugh, a social studies teacher and coach of the Wauwatosa East American Public Policy Special Emphasis (APPSE) Team. “We felt like we had great hearings at our state competition and the kids worked immensely hard in order to get to the position they were in.”


Wauwatosa West High School placed second at the state meet and earned its 13th consecutive trip to the National Finals thanks to a Wild Card selection. 


This year’s state meet was a three-way competition between Oshkosh North, Wauwatosa West, and Wauwatosa East.  Two other schools scheduled to compete canceled due to weather conditions. 


"I am happy for Dan (East High School coach) and his East group.  I know what we saw in our room and we felt we were exceptional all day long so it says a lot about how well East must have been doing in their room all day!” said Chad Mateske, a social studies teacher and coach of the West High School APPSE Team. “We are happy that both schools can head out to once again to represent Wisconsin and the city of Wauwatosa on the national stage."


At East High School, 10 of the 26 students and teacher assistants have a sibling(s) who has previously gone through the program. 


“I think this program becomes something of a family tradition since younger siblings see their older siblings being a part of it - our work nights, the overnight retreat, maybe going to Washington, and they want to be apart of it,” said McHugh. “I think younger siblings have seen how successful their older siblings have been after this class and realize that this is a great program.” 


At National Finals, the teams will compete against students representing all 50 U.S. states and approximately a dozen Wild Card teams from across the country. The top-ten final round hearings will be held in hearing rooms on Capitol Hill.


Students will participate in simulated congressional hearings. Students testify as constitutional experts before a panel of judges acting as congressional committees. Students are scored on a performance-based assessment. 


Each hearing begins with a four-minute opening statement by students and is followed by a six-minute period of follow-up questioning where judges examine student’s depth of knowledge, understanding, and their ability to apply constitutional principles.


Both teams will need to raise between $60,000 - $70,000 each to travel to Nationals. 


Since 1987 over 35,000 students and 1,000 teachers have participated in the National Finals. To learn more about the program, click HERE.