During the week of September 17, 2015, DBA volunteer attorneys celebrated Constitution Day by leading programs and activities in 28 third and eighth-grade classrooms across Denver. We arrived bearing pocket copies of the Constitution, DBA/Constitution Day pencils and “squishy George Washington heads,” which delighted participants of all ages.
The DBA Lawyers and Schools Committee provided a number of suggested activities from which attorneys, in consultation with teachers, could choose. I met with three eighth-grade classes to dive into the five freedoms of the First Amendment – with a modern twist. After a brief video and discussion about the purpose and scope of the First Amendment, students broke into small teams to create social media campaigns arguing for ratification of the Amendment. As I walked around checking in with teams and answering questions, I was amazed by the creativity of the students, all of whom had very real examples of what these freedoms protect. There were Instagram accounts, Facebook groups, Twitter campaigns (#SpeechForAll) and a video blog. Teams presented their approaches to the class using paper sketches and actual website mock-ups on school-provided laptops.
It is refreshing to examine legal issues from the students’ perspectives and to have the opportunity to reflect on some of the founding principles of the American legal system. Thanks to all of those who also volunteered: Erich Bethke, Jenna Brunett, Amy Devan, Amber Elias, Russ Haskell, Brad Hill, Matthew Holohan, Don Jacobson, Monica Lester, Scott Loftin, Jessica Lowrey, Camille Papini-Chapla, Robert Rosenthal, Jeffrey Williams, David Wolff, Steven Woodrow and Steve Zapiler. D
Peg Perl is Co-Chair of the DBA Lawyers and Schools Committee and Senior Counsel for Colorado Ethics Watch, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.