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Wauwatosa West 'We the People' team making another run in national competition

School Zone

The Journal Sentinel education reporters offer news and notes from their beat

Feb. 25, 2014

By Astead Herndon of the Journal Sentinel

Feb. 25, 2014 0

Wauwatosa West social studies teacher Chad Mateske and his “We the People” team made it a perfect seven out of seven last month when they again qualified for a national constitutional convention held in the Washington D.C. area this April.

They have done so every year of their existence.

“We’ve been quite fortunate,” Mateske said.

“We the People” is a state-wide competition that’s held in conjunction with the American Public Policy Special Emphasis. Under Mateske’s tutelage, third-year high school students at Wauwatosa West work year-round researching constitutional questions in American government and civics. During competition, panels of constitutional experts – usually lawyers and professors – quiz teams of students on their knowledge and require quick and critical answers.

“My daughter has really come out of her shell,” said Mary Ann Panella-Best, a “We the People” parent. “I’ve seen her mature, manage her time and grow in leadership development. Meeting up with this group is the best thing that’s happened to her.”

Best, who is an educator herself, gives high praise to Mateske for his commitment and passion for students. Noting he often meets on weekends to help research.

“The kids have so much respect for him. It’s incredible,” she said. “We often hear about teenagers not doing cool things, but this is cool. It’s a real testament to the district.”

Wauwatosa West’s civics team has placed in the national top 10 in in 2010. The top 10 teams get to compete in House and Senate committee chambers on Capitol Hill.

But the coach feels this team’s has the makings to do just that.

“I think this year is one of our strongest teams yet,” Mateske said, who also coaches baseball and mock trial. “They’re dedicated and we have to keep them hungry, we hope they don’t get burned out from fundraising.”

The team has raised $23,000 so far and has set up a fundraising website to accept donations.


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