Schools observe Constitution Week

By Sarah Meyer, PNT Staff Writer

Portales students from kindergarten through college are learning more about the U.S. Constitution this week.

“All students, especially during an election year, need to understand the Constitution. The outcome of the election may influence both the Supreme Court and the Constitution,” said Steven Palmer, assistant professor of law at Eastern New Mexico University.

Palmer will participate in a panel discussion along with Donald Elder III, professor of history, and Sue Strickler, professor of political science, at 6:30 p.m. today in the Becky Sharp Auditorium in the College of Business. The meeting is open to the public free of charge.

Portales schools are observing Constitution Week with several activities designed to help students learn more about the document signed Sept. 17, 1787, according to school officials.

Constitution Day was first observed in 2002. In May 2005, legislation was passed mandating that all educational institutions receiving federal funding hold an educational program pertaining to the Constitution on Sept. 17 each year.

At Portales High School, social studies classes are reading “War of Words” from the New York Times, then discussing how the Supreme Court has shaped the document, according to Assistant Superintendent Priscilla Hernandez. Then they will be writing about why the Supreme Court is called “the great protector” of the Constitution.

The high school choir also has traveled to the other Portales schools to sing the national anthem.

Portales Junior High students are working with an interactive CD in their history classes, according to Principal Steve Harris, learning about key content and terms, as well as taking a virtual tour of the document.

Junior high students also are discussing landmark Supreme Court cases and how they shaped the Constitution, as well as how a bill becomes law, again with an interactive CD.

At James Elementary, teachers are incorporating patriotic awareness in the classroom, said Principal Becky Flen. Third-grade students are learning a song called “Preamble,” which deals with the Constitution.

At Steiner Elementary, first-graders have had some help from Carolyn Thompson, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, according to teacher Marie Smith.

Thompson donated flags for decoration and a bulletin board that will be up all week, Smith said.

Each morning, the principal is including announcements related to the Bill of Rights, “in kid-friendly terms,” Smith said, and “the teachers expand from there.”

At Lindsey Elementary, teachers are working to integrate lessons across subjects, said Belynn Pierce, social studies teacher. A group has recited the Preamble to the Constitution over the intercom; students are wearing red, white and blue; and in social studies classes, students are listening to patriotic songs.