Student VoicesBack to student voices archive May 7, 2013
Constitution Still Resonates with Today’s Youth
By: Alyssa Goard, PBS NewsHour Extra
WASHINGTON – In the meeting room for the Congressional Committee for Science and Technology, the 17 members of Plainfield High School’s We The People competitive civics team from Plainfield, Ind., defended their beliefs about the Constitution in front of a panel of top Constitutional scholars, college professors and state court justices.
These students gave up attending their senior prom to participate in the 26th annual national We The People competition where 56 top teams from around the country vied for a spot in the top 10. Residents of Plainfield rallied around their team to help raise the more than $29,000 needed to attend the national competition as a wildcard team. Plainfield HS was the first wildcard team in the history of the competition to make it into the top 10.
After spending a year studying the Constitution and practicing simulated Congressional hearings, Plainfield students say they are passionate about the Constitution and how it applies to their lives today.
“As an American Muslim living in Plainfield, Ind., I’m aware of the protections offered by the Bill of Rights,” said student Fatima Khan in one of the team hearings. She explained that in the early 1980s, 7,000 of Plainfield’s 9,000 residents banded together to form the Concerned Citizens of Hendricks County that sought to prevent the construction of the mosque she now attends. Thanks to First Amendment protections, the mosque was built and allows her to worship close to home today.
Plainfield students became budding experts on Constitutional scholarship. Student Aaron Hanke explained that, “University of Texas law professor Sandy Levinson said,’ the Consitution is a fat stinking pig’, and while I wouldn’t go that far, I do believe the constitution does have its flaws. We see that with Congress’ 10 percent approval rating, that perhaps our framework isn’t providing the government we need today.”
Many of the participants were judged by their Constitutional superheroes. Student Shane Authenreith was ecstatic to meet scholar David Adler, who was one of the competition’s 76 judges. Authenreith explained that he spends his free time studying the Constitution with his team because “ we all share a passion, this is the stuff we love to talk about and this is the stuff that many of us want to do later in life.”
The top 10 teams debated in Congressional committee rooms where only two year prior, Congress voted to cut federal funding for the We the People program. This year, more students than ever participated in the competition, and together the teams fund-raised over 2 million dollars to make the national competition happen.
Student Dane Kirchoff-Foster said that he hopes in the future, civic education programs like We The People are given more support.
“Civic education is so underrated,” he said, “my experience in this program will carry me further than anything else I’ve learned in my public education so far.”
Tooltip of related stories
Tooltip of more video block
Submit Your Student Voice
Tooltip of related content
Tooltip of RSS content 3
How-to guide for sheltering pets during extreme weather events
Thousands of evacuees sought refuge in Houston’s convention center during Hurricane Harvey, but their pets were not allowed in with them. New emergency service groups and animal shelters in Houston are taking a step to include animals and pets in disaster planning. Continue readinganimal rescueanimalsenvironmental scienceextreme weatherFriends for LifehurricaneHurricane HarveyHurricane Irmanatural disasterpetsScienceshelterSRLSTEMstudent reporting labs
Hillary Clinton on sexism, racism and Trump’s foreign policy deficits
Hillary Clinton, the former senator, secretary of state, first lady and presidential candidate published her memoir, “What Happened,” last week about the 2016 presidential election in which she lost to Donald Trump. Continue reading2016 presidential electionDonald TrumpElection 2016Foreign PolicygenderGovernment & CivicsHillary ClintonNorth KorearacismsexismSocial Studies
Student Reporting Labs STEM Lesson Plan: Protecting green space through hands-on learning
In this PBS NewsHour lesson, students take a hands-on approach to nature by exploring green spaces in their community. Continue readingbiologyDebateEconomicsEnvironmental Protection Agencyenvironmental scienceEPAGovernment & Civicsgreen spacelesson planopen spacesPBLproject-based learningScienceSRLSTEMstudent journalismstudent reporting labs
Hurricane Irma: Determining the road to recovery and the role of climate change
Seven million Floridians remain without power along with 1.5 million people in Georgia and millions more in the Caribbean after Hurricane Irma struck those areas over the last week. Continue readingCaribbeanclimate changeenvironmental scienceextreme weatherFloridaGovernment & CivicsHurricane HarveyHurricane IrmaSocial Studies
Since 9/11, what do your students know about how the U.S. has changed?
Monday marks the 16th anniversary of the attacks on September 11th. Discuss with your students how the U.S. has changed over the last 16 years as a result of 9/11. Continue reading9/11Donald TrumpELAenglishGovernment & CivicspoetrySeptember 11Social Studies