EASTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WHSM) -- A group of students from Easthampton were named national champions after winning a competition amid coronavirus restrictions.
Hanna Wauczinski, Grace Kane, Amelia Wilson, Alice Wanmaker and Emmalee Connly are just five of the 21 Easthampton High School students who are now national champions of the We The People competition.
“I mean, it’s unbelievable,” Wanmaker said. “We were praying to get top 10. We were so incredibly shocked.”
“It’s absolutely mind boggling to say that we are national champions. We are over the moon about it,” said Kelley Brown, history and government teacher.
Brown is the teacher who's been at the front of the class preparing the students since the beginning of the year.
“The course is called ‘We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution. Students have the ability to not only learn about their government, but also apply their learning,” Brown said.
Every year, the goal is getting the class to a national competition in Washington D.C. to put their knowledge to the test, and last weekend would have been their third trip to the capitol to represent Massachusetts as state champions, but plans changed.
“Our students were slated to go to D.C. to compete, but of course, with the current crisis, that was canceled. They decided to have a competition virtually using Zoom,” Brown said.
Through Zoom, each student was able to safely participate through the comfort of their own homes.
“Even though we’ve had to do most of our work over Zoom calls, we’ve been able to really connect with our units and be with each other even though we’re not physically there,” Kane said.
“I probably spent at least three hours a day with them working on this,” said Wauczinski, former member and mentor to the group.
Even though it's been a lot of work, it's helped them get through this difficult time with smiles on their faces.
“Working on this has been what’s kept me doing well with all that’s happening with the coronavirus,” Wanmaker said.
“During this time of having to take it virtual, we have the friendships that helped us continue,” Wilson said.
“It provided a constant, it provided normalcy. We kept doing what we were doing except in a different atmosphere,” Brown said.
Moving forward, they have the victory to remember, but more importantly, it's the lessons and friendships they’ll forever cherish.
“It’s not just doing work, it’s actually beneficial to me as a person,” Connly said.
“We’ve become like a second family,” Kane said.