HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Representatives from the 49th Wing Staff Judge Advocate office spoke to students about the history of the United States Constitution Sept. 21, 2017 at Holloman Middle School to commemorate Constitution Week.
The visit provided more than 190 children the opportunity to learn about the Founding Fathers and what it took to make a new form of government.
The event started by informing the students about the signing of the U.S. Constitution Sept. 17, 1787.
They also discussed the importance of the document. Children were taught the U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the United States. It provides the framework for the organization of the United States Government.
The document defines the three main branches of the government: the legislative branch with a Congress, an executive branch led by the president and a judicial branch headed by the Supreme Court. Besides providing for the organization of these branches, the Constitution outlines obligations of each office as well as what powers each branch may exercise. It also reserves numerous rights for the individual states.
After the basics, the children were able to participate in an interactive exercise. Each student was asked to sign one of two bills that would directly affect them as they acting as the legislative branch of the U.S. government.
“Our office was able to send nine representatives to meet the kids, share some fun facts about the drafting, signing and ratification of the Constitution, and involve students in role-playing activities to learn why the Constitution is relevant in the lives of middle schoolers,” said 1st Lt. Fabiani Duarte, 49th WG JA Legal Assistance chief. “By inviting the students to role-play what it means to debate different sides of an argument through our mock 8th grade congress and 8th grade supreme court, students were able to see what it’s like to stake one’s reputation to a bill or position, and then how challenging it can be to try to convince fellow peers to support that position.”
Each side was able to speak about which bill they felt was better and deliberate on which of the bills to sign.
“It was wonderful,” said Emmanuel Davila, Holloman 8th grade History teacher. “They had the kids engaged. The way they brought the constitution and (related) it to things that affected them in school got everyone to want to participate. That was a really neat way to get students involved. They actually brought it to life, and the kids applied their knowledge and saw it work.”
After deliberating, students cast a final vote and selected one of the bills before handing things over to the executive branch. The 8th grade class president then had the chance to listen to the majority of the class, and either sign the bill or veto it.
After signing the bill, the nine children demonstrating the judicial branch listened to representatives from each side before deliberating and eventually agreeing with the bill.
“I hope (kids) can understand that the way our Founding Fathers did it -- you needed nine out of the 13 states to be able to ratify something,” said Davila. “But when it finally came to happen, our Founding Fathers found out what they could do to make it 13 out of 13. They weren’t happy with nine out of 13. I hope the kids can understand our Founding Fathers developed that idea. They did it right, and they were patient.”
The JA office did what they could to ensure each child would walk away with a better understanding of the Constitution and how the federal government works.
“I really enjoyed seeing the students walk-in, and consider which bill they would sign and then formulate arguments with their friends at the cafeteria tables for why their initiative had greater merits than their opponents,” said Duarte. “I can confidently say we saw some budding lawyers and paralegals at Holloman Middle School.”
Overall the event successfully demonstrated how the Founding Fathers established a new government and how it is still used today.
“I feel that it is really important (to know) that the people who created the Constitution had some really good laws,” said Nick Noel, 8th grade student at Holloman Middle School. “They have managed to keep it going for over 200 years.”