Constitution Team continues competing remotely


Courtesy of Patrick Magee-Jenks

A screenshot of the Lincoln Constitution Team during a team Zoom call in December.

The Lincoln High School Constitution Team has enjoyed tremendous success over the past decade and has won the We The People National Championships in Washington, D.C., several times throughout the years.

This school year, however, the Constitution Team will be staying at home, as all competitions are online.

While online practices are working, some students notice they are missing out on certain aspects of the team that they feel have been important in the past. 

  “I think while it still works online, it would be a lot more fun in person,” said sophomore and Constitution Team member Nora Wu. “Especially when you look at pictures from the last years, you can tell how much more connected and engaging it was compared to this year. It’s a lot harder to bond with a team when you can only interact with them over Zoom.”

Communicating and staying connected with other members of the team has been difficult this year and has been frustrating for many students.

“As much as my unit tries to stay connected through Snapchat, our group chats on Remind, Zoom meetings, and the occasional outdoor in-person meetings (we have only had three since the start of the season), the majority of the work is done alone,” said sophomore and member Sophia Spehar. “Because of this, I don’t feel super close with all of the people on my unit, much less the whole team.”

Internet issues are another challenge students face. For some, it can be hard to deal with and quite tiring, especially when part of a team where communication and public speaking are essential to success.

“Every practice round we have, there’s usually someone who ends up having technology issues,” said Spehar. “ My computer also doesn’t work super well with Zoom and sometimes I’ll read a part of my essay during a practice round and the coaches say they didn’t hear anything I said because my internet cut out or something.”

Last year’s team was able to start in person, but they eventually had to transition to online in March. 

“For the first half of last year, I did [Constitution Team] in person. For the second half, [the constitution team] was online. I definitely preferred it in person,” said junior Samantha Block who is now a TA for the team. “I think [Constitution Team] is affected by the same things every other online class is affected by: it is harder to focus on classes [and] lectures and there’s less accountability.”

An important part of the experience for many Constitution Team members has always been the trips to regionals and sometimes nationals, but since nationals were online last year, the actual trip didn’t happen. It may not be possible this year, either.

“I think the trip to regionals, state, and possibly nationals are all culminating experiences,” said Block. “Without them, [Constitution Team], at least for me, was somewhat anticlimactic, but it was still incredible.”

While the fully online format has changed the Constitution Team, students have also found some positives.

“Having it online I don’t feel as stressed about school in general and life. It’s a lot more relaxed than my usual busy schedule during the school year,” said Spehar. “I am really grateful to have such kind and dedicated coaches that have made a large effort to give us lots of online resources such as weekly lectures, meetings and practice rounds as well.”

Ultimately, students are still optimistic and excited for the rest of their season, despite the changes and challenges this year.

“I still think this year’s [Constitution Team] will do amazing despite [distance] learning,” said Block. “After all, last year’s team was able to not only adapt, but thrive, with virtual nationals. This year’s team seems incredibly dedicated, and overall has great potential.”