Middle School Humanities Students Celebrate Constitution’s Birthday at National Constitution Center in Philadelphia
For Immediate Release
September 26, 2023
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP – Eighth-grade Humanities students from Chestnut Ridge, Bunker Hill, and Orchard Valley Middle Schools experienced an extra special celebration for Constitution Day to kick off the 2023 school year. Students visited the National Constitution Center on September 18 courtesy of funding from Peco, An Exelon Company. The National Constitution Center hosted a variety of special events to celebrate the 236th signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787 in the city of Philadelphia. Students and their teachers participated in calligraphy and other craft stations, suggested our nation's 28th Amendment, signed a replica of the U.S. Constitution, and attended some of the museum's everyday exhibits. They even participated in a live reading of the Preamble to the Constitution and singing Happy Birthday to the Constitution, along with enjoying delicious slices of actual birthday cake.
One of the most special programs students attended during their visit was a "Judges on Judging" Panel with judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, located in Philadelphia. Judge Cheryl Ann Krause expressed to the students that the U.S. Constitution is the "greatest protector" of American citizens because it "secures self-governance," establishes the branches, and provides the right to vote, which allows citizens to govern themselves. She said, "The right to vote is precious and should be protected and cherished."
The judges explained their job to students by saying that "judges interpret the law to make sure the laws are administered within the Constitution." They also shared the importance of judges being appointed for life so they can remain independent from politics and make decisions that are correct without the influence of a specific "agenda or interpretation." The judges introduced the role of precedent from previous court decisions and evidence from a case to the middle school students and gave examples of how judges use those two factors when determining the results of a case.
They went on to describe some recent cases in which they participated and some cases that rose all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Closing up their talk, Judge Krause emphasized to the students that they are the future leaders of the nation and "they will decide if our rights survive through changing norms and technology growth." She stated that it is crucial for students to learn about the U.S. Constitution. Students were encouraged to remember there is a "legal right to speak" and they should "listen to things they don't like." Citizens don't have to agree with everything they hear, but compromise is a part of the nation's fabric. Krause highlighted that "individual expression is what democracy is all about."
Grade 8 Humanities teachers -- Lori Bathurst (CRMS), Saumil Prasad (BHMS), and Emily Conaway (OVMS) -- are grateful to the National Constitution Center for making this visit possible for their Grade 8 Humanities students. The day was engaging and thought-provoking.
Bathurst reflected, "Recognizing the central role the city of Philadelphia played in the creation of our U.S. Constitution and the countless ways the U.S. Constitution continues to shape the everyday lives of American citizens was impactful for our learners. An opportunity like this really gets kids thinking about the rights and responsibilities they have as American citizens and the steps their generation will need to carry out to protect and honor the US Constitution the way previous generations have done for them. This type of learning is the root of why Constitution Day is celebrated each year."
The eighth-grade Humanities students from all three schools gather for a photo at the National Constitution Center.
Orchard Valley Middle School eighth-graders Marlie Coleman (left) and Brielle Angoy take advantage of a photo op at the National Constitution Center.
- WTPS -