Sunday, March 21, 2010

We The People Bio - Whitney Reed

Hi, I am Whitney Reed. Let me tell you a little about myself. I am the oldest of four kids. I am a member of the debate team. I love to travel and learn about the world around me. I highly enjoy politics and history. I am also a member of the We the People team. I can honestly say that We the People has been the best decision I’ve made in my high school years. It has broadened my perspective of the world. It has taught me to be more accepting of others beliefs and a more tolerant person all around. It has instilled a new confidence in me and taught me how to work as a team. Most of all, this program has instilled a love and passion for The United States and education in me. Because of this passion I have decided to double major in Political Science and History and then eventually get my PhD in education, so that I can instill this passion in others. I love to serve and I feel that I can give back through teaching. I attribute these goals because of We the People. I am so grateful for this experience and so excited to compete in D.C!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

We the People Bio - Danica Stott

My close friend was in We the People last year, and I continually heard stories from her about how exciting and fun it was to be a part of such a thing, and how grateful she was for the opportunity to gain that much knowledge in something that was so important. I didn’t really understand it at that time, but decided I wanted to try it anyway.

I decided to jump right in. The more and more I engrossed myself in the We the People program the more and more I wanted to learn. You know, you hear people say “The more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know.” And I can attest to that! The more time I spent researching, the more I became overwhelmed with how inadequate I seemed to be.

I am a member of Unit 6 which I feel has the most personally applicable topics to myself as a citizen. I have acquired so much knowledge in the topics of rights and obligations of a citizen and citizenship as a whole. I feel I have learned things in the past five months that I can use for the rest of my life. The most exciting thing for me to learn was that I have the power to affect the National government. Maybe not directly, but I do have the power and the right to go about voicing my opinion and changing mine and others’ standards of living.

I feel better prepared for college because of this specific program. I have learned that you can’t always expect to succeed the first time. While this has been a hard thing for me to learn, I now understand that sometimes you have to fail first in order to succeed the next time. I feel my study habits have become better; and my desire to do better in all things has been upped.

I have also further developed the skill of working with others as a cohesive unit. Throughout each of our lives, at one point or another, we all will have to work with others. Whether it be in college, in leadership positions or at jobs. I feel that the privilege of working with my 5 unit members has better prepared me for that. I believe it’s important to be respectful of others; to be willing to compromise; and to be willing to let go of differences to make things better as a whole.

All in all, I feel like the We the People program has benefited me tremendously. I have so enjoyed the opportunity to learn new things and meet new people. I’m so grateful for everybody who supports and loves us; it makes our job so much easier! Thank you!

On the first day of AP Government, I thought to myself, “What in the world am I doing here?” It took some time, but eventually I began to believe in myself a little more. I still sometimes wonder if I’m worthy to be a part of the program, but I know I am. And I know I’m an important asset to my unit, to my team, and more importantly to myself.

-Danica Stott

Thursday, March 11, 2010

We The People Bio - Cory Cullimore

About a year and a half ago, my life changed drastically. My older sister's boyfriend, David Heiner, drowned at the bottom of a swimming pool in Raleigh, North Carolina. I had known David since I was 12, and I looked up to him as a hero. He was funny, smart and cool. Up until that point, I had been a perfect kid. I was a 3.9 student, lined up to be leadership in band and debate, and I was generally happy. After David died though, I was devastated. I became unmotivated, lazy and distant. I was struggling to achieve like I used to, and my GPA fell to a 2.8. I got fired from my job, and come around my senior year, I had quit both band and debate and failed two AP exams.

My highschool experience was lackluster at best. I remember people telling me that I had such potential, but I had nothing to show for it. I had achieved nothing in high school, up until AP Government. When I joined, I was intent on experiencing what my friends experienced: good class, and an awesome trip to DC. What I found was a supportive class, a passionate teacher, and a program that fostered this. The We the People competition taught me discipline, like when I had to come to early morning practices everyday, or when I had to read entire books for one passage of information. It also taught me good communication skills, especially when I had to confront the people who I had become so close to. Most importantly, it taught me that life isn't all giggles, and even when life is trash, you can make something of yourself.

We won state. This has wholly and profoundly changed my outlook on high school. It gave me a sense of worth. The feeling is far beyond what I set out to experience. Although we've made it this far, we need help. If you can help send us to Nationals, please email Mike Rigby at I constantly think back to how poor my life would have been if this program hadn't intervened, and I am so thankful for every supportive friend and teacher who helped me back. This program has changed my life.

"Life only demands from you the strength you possess. Only one feat is possible — not to have run away." -Dag Hammarskj√∂ld

Friday, March 5, 2010

We the People Bio - Jessica Murdock

Seven months ago I couldn’t comfortably give a prepared speech in front of a group of people, and having to answer any sort of question in front of a group of people was the most daunting task I’d ever faced. Before I joined the Sky View We the People team I had almost no public speaking skills. The first time my unit practiced presenting our question was a disaster. I didn’t have anything to say during the questioning period and I stumbled through my prewritten part. At that point I regretted joining the team. I was discouraged and embarrassed. At our district competition I struggled with the questioning period as well. It felt like my mind was turned off and I couldn’t form a flowing thought. Luckily my unit kept it together and we made it past district.

In that short time between district and state, more specifically the week before state, I experienced a complete change. I went from dreading the questioning period to being excited and looking forward to it. I know that the only thing that changed was my mindset. I doubted myself before; I thought that my unit would be able to answer the questions better, and that I would only be a detriment if I spoke. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but in that final week before state I gained a bit of confidence that I’ve never had in my life. Maybe it was the constant encouragement and patience of my unit, or maybe it was the confidence Rigby had in me that I didn’t have, but whatever it was it has changed me in aspects beyond We the People. It has changed the way I interact with people and it has changed how I see my future.

I know now that I can accomplish anything I set out to do, no matter how daunting it may seem, if I put in the time and effort it requires. I’ve never worked so hard to achieve something as I have in this class, and I’ve never felt that indescribable feeling as strong as I did when the announcer said Sky View would be going back to Washington D.C., but it wasn’t cause we were going to D.C., it was because I stuck to something that challenged me in more than one aspect of my live and I succeeded. I don’t want the countless hours of sleep that I lost back, I don’t want the tears back, and I wouldn’t trade the friendships I’ve made for anything.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

We The People Bio - Katelyn Gines

There are no words that describe how I truly feel about We the People. Originally, I joined the team because it sounded fun and I had learned to love the Constitution during History 1700 junior year with Mr. Rigby. I never could have imagined how my life would change in just a few months of starting WTP.
It started out with me, Katelin, an individual. That's all I was. Then I was placed in Unit 4 (the best Unit :) I'm not biased, I promise!) where I was able to get to know three amazing people that I would have never become friends with had I not joined the team. Through the countless hours we spent together we came to view each more as a family! As our unit started to mesh, I learned that relying on someone else is okay. I could not win Districts, let alone State, without the help from my Unit.
January 14, 2010, came. For most it was an ordinary day, but for 29 high school students it was everything. At the end of the competition we saw a change. We were no longer 29 individuals or 6 Units, we were a team. We bonded through the "We the People High" that can't be described. You don't understand it until you have competed and seen what WTP is all about. We experienced this again on February 8, 2010. Before the awards were even announced you could feel the spirit of the team as we gave each other high fives and hugs.
At this point, it would not have mattered whether we had won State or lost. We had all done our best and we knew it. I felt almost fearless. Winning wasn't everything. I looked back reminiscing about what I had learned, who I had come to know and love as family, and the many inside jokes. That's when it truly struck me...if we lost; I would still do it all over again. Every hour of lost sleep, every frustration, every ounce of anger...I wouldn't take any of it back. This team and my amazing teammates have helped shape me to who I am. This program might seem strange to some, but to those involved it will become a priceless montage of memories that changed themselves for the better.
I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in this program and can't wait to represent Utah in Washington D.C. at nationals. Thank you to everyone that has supported us and everyone who will support this team in the future. We couldn't have done it without the support of our families and friends. A special thanks To Mr. Rigby for all the time he had given to us and to his family for sacrificing their time with him! You guys are awesome! Thanks!

Monday, March 1, 2010

We The People Bio -Luis Patino

Hmm, We The People. A lot of people will think that what I am about to say is the same old story that I know how to tell. But I guess they are going to have to stick with it because it plays a big role when I had to decided to join “We The People.” I come from a family who has had little or no relation what’s so ever with politics. I, myself never thought of getting involved in politics either, all I wanted to do was get done with high school and start college that following fall. I was just like any other person who comes from outside the country; try to improve my living conditions in a future, yet a little bit better because I wanted to get an education not like the rest of my family who did not attend school at all.

My thoughts changed when I took AP History in my junior year. The history of America just fascinated me and still does. I got interested in joining AP Government the following year and also the well known “We The People.” Unfortunately tragedy struck the family and my future plans when my mom passed away due to a car accident. Before the accident, I was living with one of my sisters who helped me a bunch and would help me pay the most of the bills. My sister moved to Mexico to take care of my dad, and there goes Luis. Well, first I already had a job which was really close to home. One of my brothers offered me shelter, but if I was to accept I would have to move to the south part of the valley and attend that mmmm if forgot what it is call. Mountains BOO? Oh sorry it is Mountain C… anyway you all get my point. So I decided to stay where I was and be on my own. From then on, I really depended on my work a lot because I had and still do pay most of the bills that come around. I couldn’t join any other clubs because I didn’t have the time; I had to work right after school, but worse, before school as well. I lost a lot of opportunities but time was really crucial at the moment, I had a lot to do with little benefits coming back to me. Before my junior year ended, I decided to drop AP Government. I really wanted to be part of We The People but I knew that I will not have the time for it. Effort, I could put the effort but on my own, and we the people works better as a team.

Senior year came and I had government as my first class of the day. Mr. Rigby was really disappointed that I decided to not join AP Government and We The People. I remember him saying that I had the potential to do it. And I would always respond that I didn’t, it was just luck what I accomplished in AP History. Well, within those first weeks of my senior year I faced a lot of individuals who were part of We The People already. They kept asking me why I didn’t join the team, that I was making a mistake, or that they needed me on the group. These individuals who are now my team members and also my other family, kept trying to convince me to join We The People for a long period of time, but I never let go. The main reason was my work. Like I mentioned, I really depended on my work because I needed the money badly. First tri ended and my last chances of joining the team were about to fade away.

The new tri was around the corner, and my schedule seemed like it was going to stay as planned without taking AP government. Rigby and other students talked to me one last time and I finally let go, I decided to join. I felt like this was the best decision I could have made because it definitely changed the way I see politics now days. I have learned a lot from my Unit. I also learn that when in come to politics opinions are way different and can get into ugly discussions. No wonder why congressman can never get along huh!? Still, we don’t hate each other, but a lot of respect has build between all of us.

I have had a lot of great experiences like WINNING STATE, but my favorite will be when we competed at district. First my voice was gone, and second I go to the hospital because of a finger injury. That day I felt like I was in a family again because you all cared, I thank you all. And Rigby my respects for you even though you opt for USU. ha ha it’s a joke8).

Thursday, February 25, 2010

We The People Bio - Kim Smith

It was a hard decision for me to decide whether or not I wanted to be in this program. I had watched last year’s group perform and I loved what they did. I love this country, a feeling that was greatly instilled in me by my mom. She grew up in Argentina during the “Dirty war,” a time of a corrupt government and economic struggle, and has always told us how lucky we are to live in this country where we are free from oppression. The struggle for me was not that I wasn’t interested or that I was afraid of the work load, the greatest obstacle I had to overcome was myself.

See, I have always been a really shy person; any one that knows me can attest to it. It has always held me back when speaking in public and even talking to people in general. It is an ongoing internal battle. It’s not that I didn’t want to talk, it’s just that I always felt like I didn’t have anything worthwhile to say and when I did, I believed that no one would ever want to listen to me. I never bothered making an opinion about anything because I believed that no matter what I thought, I would always be wrong.

I decided to try it out, and I promised myself that if it didn’t work out those first couple days, I would leave. I felt so out of place that first day of school, sitting in that room the first day of class with some of the brightest kids in Sky View. It became even worse when we got our first set of questions. I seriously felt like I was reading another language. Each day of class was information overload and I left class each day wondering why I was even in there. Panic began to set in and I was ready to run, but I was tired of being afraid, so I took a leap and I decided that I was going to stay.

Joining “We the People” has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I absolutely love this program. I’ve made so many friends and learned so much, not just about our government and our country, but about myself too. I’m more confident and I’m learning to speak up and form my own opinion. It’s addicting when you can go up there before the judges and be able to have an intellectual conversation with them. I love the feeling you get when you can sit up there with your family by your side and know what you’re talking about, be able to back it up with evidence, building off each of your team members, getting stronger and stronger, and by the end of the six minutes, wish that you could stay up there all day.

I love everyone on this team. Everyone has been so wonderful to me and has welcomed me with open arms, despite the fact that I may be extremely quiet sometimes. They bear with me and have helped me grow so much these last couple months. I’m really grateful that we have the opportunity to go to Washington D.C. for nationals, not just so we can compete, but so we can stay together for another couple months. But I know that even if it was to end today, that these friendships we have made will last forever.