Grade 7 History Teacher Emma Simmons kicked off a recent project by explaining to students that “the U.S. Constitution was designed to be flexible and to bend and warp over time.” The framers’ goal was to establish “a more perfect union” and a government that could “maintain the delicate balance of structure and elasticity.” To achieve this objective, amendments were added to the Congressional toolbox.
Having set the context, Mrs. Simmons introduced a project, which included researching, writing and creating, by posing the essential questions, “How has the U.S. Constitution grown to ensure liberty and justice for all? How can it continue to grow to ensure liberty and justice for all?”
Students were challenged to select an existing Constitutional amendment or to create one of their own. They were charged with researching it, writing an evidence-based paragraph defending its importance and impact, and making an artistic representation of it. Mrs. Simmons urged each student to select a topic that is deeply personal to them.
Student Katie Bergsieker chose the 19th Amendment, which gives women the right to vote. “I have always been really inspired by women’s rights and all the women today that are standing up and breaking barriers,” she said. “One of the things I found most surprising is that the movement for women to vote lasted almost 100 years and in the grand scheme of things, this amendment was ratified not that long ago. And I feel we still have a ways to go.”
“I created an amendment called the Hate Speech Prohibition Amendment, which would make hate speech unconstitutional,” said seventh-grader Celia McCarty. “I have been surprised to learn how much of an impact speaking hateful things can have on people. And not just on their emotions, but the impact on society as a whole.”
Josh Patterson also created an amendment to ban hate speech. “I felt excited while researching because I realized that some people are already fighting against hate speech,” he said. “This encouraged me because I felt that this wasn't a well-known topic at first, but I realized that many people are fighting for the same cause.”
“Before this project and learning about them, I never knew how important amendments were,” said student Griffin Adams. “Now I can see that without these amendments we would not have the country we have today.”
It’s clear to see that through this project, Grade 7 students’ efforts are reflected in Graland’s mission as they “prepare to be engaged citizens and thoughtful leaders.”
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.