Students, judges, lawyers, and reporters participate in Constitution Day

September 20, 2010
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This post was written by IL reporter Rebecca Berfanger

If you have a few minutes, fill out this “treasure hunt” regarding the different articles, sections, and amendments of the U.S. and Indiana constitutions that discuss certain issues such as religion, slavery, arms, suffrage, freedom of speech, trial by jury, and education.

How did you do?

That was the same task assigned to students from Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School, Indian Creek High School, Emmerich Manual High School, Lawrence North High School, Franklin Home School Group, and other home school groups in the Indiana Supreme Court’s courtroom on Sept. 17 to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution on that day in 1787.

Armed with their own pocket versions of the U.S. and Indiana constitutions, students were broken into small discussion groups about these topics led by various law clerks and court staff from around Indianapolis, including journalists like myself and IL editor and publisher Rebecca Collier.

Also on hand to speak with students were Elizabeth Osborn, assistant to the chief justice for court history and public education, and Kathryn Dolan, public information officer, who gave a welcome and explained why the court hosts students to celebrate Constitution Day; Dan Carden, Indiana Statehouse reporter for the Times of Northwest Indiana, who talked about how rights in the constitutions affect everyday citizens by protecting members of the press and the public; statehouse reporter Maureen Hayden for CHNI News Service led a reading of the U.S. Constitution’s preamble and the Bill of Rights; and Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Cale J. Bradford and U.S. District Court Judge Larry J. McKinney discussed how the U.S. Constitution affects the daily lives of citizens, including the students in the room, whether they think about it very often or not.

To watch the speakers address the students as a whole, visit the Courts in the Classroom website for a webcast from that day.

Students who were or would be 18 by election day on Nov. 2 were also given a chance to register to vote and ask questions of a representative from the Secretary of State’s office, who was on hand at the end.

In my group of AP Government students from Emmerich Manual High School, most students seemed to know the more obvious answers, but I was also impressed by their understanding of the way the two constitutions are similar yet different, based on what they’ve learned from their teacher.

While Constitution Day is meant as a way for students to take some time to learn or relearn the role the constitution plays in our society on that particular day, it’s obvious that it’s still important the other 364 days of the year. To get involved with civics education in Indiana, check in with a school in your area, or check out the Indiana Bar Foundation’s website. Or if you know a teacher interested in Courts in the Classroom projects, visit the court’s website for info on upcoming events.

And if you took the time to fill out the treasure hunt from earlier – or just want to know the answers – here is the answer key.
 

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