SSHS is NMI’s delegate to ‘We the People’ nationals in DC

Posted on Mar 15 2012

The 25-member team of Saipan Southern High School was selected by the Public School System as the CNMI’s official delegate to the national congressional mock trial competition to be held in Washington, D.C. next month.

The “We the People” program features an intensive curriculum that provides students with comprehensive instruction on the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the principles and values they embody. The program is designed to promote an understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizens in a constitutional democracy. Each year, regional and state winners across the nation face each other in the national event, this year slated at George Mason University from April 27 to 30.

SSHS was also the CNMI champion last year, also advancing to the nationals.

During the competition rounds, students demonstrate their knowledge of the U.S. Constitution before simulated congressional committees made up of constitutional scholars, lawyers, and public officials.

SSHS principal Jesse Tudela said yesterday that he is confident the team will do its best to represent the Commonwealth once more at the national level.

According to SSHS counselor and trip coordinator Andrew Golden, the team will be joined by teacher Gerald Russell and judge-coaches John Anthon Manglona, Deanna Manglona, and Charlotte Sanders. Their goal for the CNMI team: to place in the national top 10.

Don Marshall Davis Cabrera, a senior, believes the event is a good opportunity to showcase their skills. “We can show [at the national level] that even people from a small island like the CNMI can do big things,” he said. This will be Cabrera’s first time at the nationals.

Ji Won Lee, also a senior, is excited. Although this is not her first time to compete off-island, she’s looking forward to a memorable experience. Lee is a member of the SSHS Manta Band, which competes in off-island contests, including the New York International Music Festival.

“I just can’t believe it! This is my first time to compete without playing my musical instrument, and I am so excited. I’m sure it will be fun and memorable,” she said.

According to the team’s student-coach, Zachary Sablan, who was part of the national team last year, this year’s delegation has a lot of potential to win big in the nationals. “I just tell them to keep their cool because the national event is a big professional conversation where judges want to learn from students. So the worst thing they can do is panic. I believe in this team and I won’t be surprised if they win because they really have the potential,” he added.

Golden said that team members are meeting thrice weekly with their coaches preparing and perfecting their testimonies for the competition.

The CNMI team is composed of Maria Louise Babriela Atrero, Rufino Aquino Jr., Angelica Awa-Ao, Akioni Nadine Babauta, Chelsea Marie Bartolo, Vanessa Rome Bartolo, Yunika Mae Biado, Rachel Nadine Borja, Don Marshall Davis Cabrera, Zyerlishida Camacho, Yoon Jae Chung, Teri-Sue Corpuz, Derick Dela Cruz, Jinky Marie Kintaro, Ji Won Lee, Allysha Hillary Lloren, Edward John Manibusan, Momoko Belle Nishikido, David Kido Paek, Rina Park, Seong Jin Park, Christine Maebelle Roque, Christina Marie Sablan, Mike Aries Vargas, and Keisuke Yoshida.

Since January, the team has been doing fundraisers to meet the financial cost of the group’s travel. It was learned that each member was asked to chip in $900 for the trip. Golden said the team’s goal is to raise $25,000.

PSS “We the People” coordinator Steven Smith said that SSHS will vie for the national title with teams from 50-plus states and territories.

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