Local public schools arrange activities for Constitution Day to teach students about the role of the Constitution in the development of the U.S.
Delta Digital News Service
Friday, Dec. 1, 2023
By Avery Jones | Editor
JONESBORO, Ark. – Constitution Day was on Sept. 17. The holiday celebrates the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. The day is especially important for public schools because they must recognize the day and use the opportunity to teach students about the Constitution according to a federal requirement.
Local schools in Jonesboro are no different and had some activities planned for Constitution Day. According to Jon Newman, an Advanced Placement U.S. History and Government teacher from The Academies at Jonesboro High School, his school didn’t have a school-wide event planned but each teacher covered the topic in their classrooms.
Since Constitution Day was on a Sunday, Newman chose to recognize the day on Tuesday. He and his students were discussing the development of the Constitution. He also brought in Senator Dan Sullivan to talk about his role in the government and our state legislature’s role in the system that was created by the Constitution.
According to Newman, the goal of this day in schools is to “help students to see how the document that established our current government was created out of a need that arose with Shay’s Rebellion.” He makes sure that he stresses to students the importance of how the Constitution was created to adapt to the country as it grew and changed.
In past years, the high school used to invite the Arkansas National Guard to speak to all of the classes about the importance of the National Guard. However, because the requirements for what must be taught has increased, more teachers are unwilling to give up an entire day for such a presentation. Newman doesn’t mind occasionally using a day, though, to allow an elected official to come talk to his students.
Newman says that his students usually respond pretty well to the day. Because of his classes’ subject matter, it’s easy to fit in the lesson.
However, one problem that comes up for other classes not about history and government is that they have to pause their usual lessons to teach about the Constitution for only one day. This lesson can seem arbitrary to students since it doesn’t flow well with the usual subject matter.
At Valley View Schools, the teachers are all doing different activities in their classrooms as well. Matt Mink, a social studies teacher at the junior high school, recognized Constitution Day on Monday the 18th.
He put together a “Constitution Day Escape Room” for his students. Each student works with a partner to decipher four clues which will provide a four-digit code. This code unlocks a lockbox that contains the “stolen” Constitution.
Mink’s goal of this activity is to allow the students to experience something different and to learn from it while having fun. He and his class discussed the Constitution prior to the activity. Mink has been doing this activity for four or five years.
“The students love this activity,” Mink said. “Once they figure out how to decipher each clue, it becomes real competitive. They all want to be the first ones done.”
Melissa Mayfield, a history and government teacher at Valley View High School, also planned special activities for Constitution Day. The school rolled Constitution Day into Freedom Week, which is celebrated during the last week of September.
The purpose of Freedom Week is to emphasize teachings on the development of the U.S. and its founding documents, including the Constitution. It’s an official holiday only in Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
The social studies department at Valley View High School, which Mayfield is a part of, planned a recital of the Bill of Rights during lunch on Sept. 25. It was recited by students from the American History and Government classes on the balcony that overlooks the school cafeteria.
The students from Mayfield’s AP World History class made posters with the amendments on them to display in the hallways of the social studies department. Additionally, Mayfield taught about different constitutions from around the world and compared them to that of the U.S.
Mayfield does the constitution comparison each year, but this is the first time that the social studies department has collaborated for the Bill of Rights recital. Mayfield said that in general, some students are more engaged than others.
The sophomores have a basic understanding of government structure, but haven’t extensively learned about the amendments. As a result, the teachings of Freedom Week focus on the individual rights that come from the Bill of Rights and comparing our government structure with that of other countries’.
“I want students to understand our Constitution, but I also want them to see how it influenced the creation of other constitutions and how other documents, like the English Bill of Rights, influenced the creation of our state,” Mayfield said.
Constitution Day celebrated by local public schools. Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council