The First State Celebrates Constitution Day 2007
High School Students on American Democracy and Constitutional Rights
Last year was the inaugural year of Widener University School of Law's Constitution Day Essay Program. To launch the program, we asked Delaware government and community leaders to write short essays about the meaning of the Constitution. The response was breathtaking. Both U.S. senators, Delaware's sole House representative, the governor, the president pro tem of the state Senate, the speaker of the state House, federal and state judges, members of the clergy, the president of the State Bar Association, the chief executive of DuPont, and others all enthusiastically agreed to write essays. These essays were collected on the Widener website under the heading "The First State Celebrates Constitution Day." You may view this essay collection by clicking on the link for The First State Celebrates Constitution Day 2006.
This year Widener worked with Delaware public high schools to create a collection of student-authored essays. High school students were asked to write a short essay on one of the following five topics:
- What do you think will be the most important factors affecting the strength of our democracy in the 21st century?
- Do you think most Americans fulfill the civic responsibilities necessary for our democracy to flourish?
- If you could add one amendment to the Constitution, what would it be and why?
- Which constitutional right do you especially value and why?
- Why should our democracy allow un-elected Supreme Court justices to overturn laws enacted by elected representatives?
We are delighted to announce that every school district in the State participated in our program. You can click on the link for Essay Collection and Student Authors to get a complete list of the participating districts and high schools.
Each school used its own process to generate a student essay for our Constitution Day collection. Consequently, essays were produced by students in different grades and under different circumstances. Click on the link for Essay Collection and Student Authors to see the complete collection.
In addition to hosting the website essay collection, Widener held an on-campus celebration for the student authors, their parents, and their teachers on September 16, 2007. Widener also found leaders in Delaware's government and legal communities - judges, politicians, lawyers, and law professors - who agreed to personally contact a student- author to discuss the author's essay. To see the list of mentors, click on the link for The Mentor Program.
Widener wants to express its gratitude to the teachers, administrators, and students who made this year's essay collection possible. We are especially grateful to members of the Social Studies Coalition of Delaware whose cooperation was vital for making the project a success. Widener also wishes to thank its immensely talented Webmaster, Cassandra King, who designed and constructed these attractive and functional web pages.
Finally, Widener would like to thank The Constitutional Walking Tour of Philadelphia for donating 100 walking tour tickets to the student participants in this year's essay program. "The Constitutional" walking tour takes visitors and school groups on a journey through historic Philadelphia, including visits to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the National Constitution Center, Betsy Ross House, Franklin Court, and other sites. For more information about "The Constitutional" and for access to Constitution Day educational resources, please visit The Constitutional website.
Alan E. Garfield
Constitution Day Project Founder and Coordinator
Professor of Law
Widener University School of Law