BVNW We the People team qualifies for nationals

BVNW’s We the People team took the state championship title at Monday’s competition, qualifying for the national competition for the sixth time in seven years. Advisor Ken Thomas and the program’s participants discuss the program’s previous success and how that affected the team.


Photo courtesy of Maddie Pickett

Olivia Baird, Emma Bruce, and Claudia Chen

The BVNW We the People team competed at the state competition Monday, earning the state championship and a trip to Washington D.C. in late April. According to We the People advisor Ken Thomas, this is the sixth time BVNW has qualified for nationals in the past seven years.

“The expectation that we’re going to perform at a very high level drives [the We the People team] to perform at that high level,” Thomas said. “There’s that legacy that’s passed down from year to year to year about expectations.”

We the People participant Riya Rana said the program’s previous success at BVNW was encouraging, but it also added a certain level of pressure to the team heading into Monday’s competition.

“I think it definitely could be stressful at times, because we didn’t want to be one of those few years where Mr. Thomas’s group didn’t qualify for nationals,” Rana said. “We just didn’t want that to be our legacy, so it was a little bit stressful.”

Thomas said despite his encouragement to continue BVNW’s legacy at the state competition, the group was ultimately motivated by their own hopes of success.

“What I want doesn’t really matter at all,” Thomas said. “It’s completely them. It’s their baby, they’re going to get out of it what they put into it, and I told them I can want, wish and pray all I want, but when it comes down to it, it’s completely up to them and the effort they want to put in.”

Nick Mauer, another We the People participant, said Thomas spoke of the state competition prior to Monday with confidence.

“[Thomas] liked to describe state as the ‘warm-up’ in a way for nationals, so he was not worried about state at all,” Mauer said. “He said he was very proud of us for winning state, and now we’re going to buckle down and really focus hard on nationals.”

Thomas said no Kansas We the People team has placed in the top 10 at the national competition in the past. Rana said in a way, this makes preparation for the competition easier.

“All of us are working really hard to make sure that we can make nationals a success,” Rana said. “It’s a little easier that we don’t have that expectation of doing well at Nationals, because that just motivates us even more…We really want to try our best regardless of how other people in the past did.”