Thursday, September 20, 2007

Elementary Constitution Day

These are two of our Project eHIKES graduates who are continuing to incorporate history into their classrooms:

Constitutional scholars
Constitutional scholars

By Colleen Surridge

Parsons Sun

Most people can tell you when Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter is, but many don't know what holiday occurred Monday.

Monday was the day the National Archives and Records Administration celebrated the 220th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787.

Sept. 17 is known as Constitution Day. The law establishing the holiday was created in 2004 with the passage of an amendment by Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va. The holiday also mandates that all publicly funded schools provide programming on the history of the Constitution on that day.

While some high school students may say their First Amendment rights are being infringed upon by schools not letting them say what they want or wear T-shirts that express what they want, Associated Press reported Monday, "A study being released Monday by a foundation that focuses on journalism and the First Amendment (John S. and James L. Knight Foundation) found that 51 percent of high school students questioned had not heard of the day when they are required by law to learn about the Constitution."

Throughout Parsons schools, no special activities were reported in classrooms to celebrate Constitution Day, except in Debbie Shaffer and Mary Colvin's fifth-grade classrooms at Guthridge Elementary School.

Students were given dice and paper clips and were asked to make a game with them.

The students were initially befuddled at what they could do with the two items, but after some time developed games with rules to play by.

"It was to represent the delegates of the 12 colonies when they gathered together and tried to figure out what they were supposed to do and how they had to come up with ideas that made up the Constitution," Shaffer said. "I think it is really important kids start to learn about community and government early, and this is just one step in their education. We keep it fairly basic, but we give them the understanding they can build on."

By afternoon the fifth-graders were learning about the Electoral College.

In fact, while Shaffer and Colvin start a weeklong study of the Constitution with Constitution Day, the two consider the Constitution so important it is incorporated into their students' lessons throughout the year.

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