11:30 AM

Citizenship program presented to Girl Scouts

The Missouri Bar Citizenship Education Department recently partnered with the Girl Scouts of the United States of America in Kansas City to host an event advancing civic engagement and education. The program began last year as an in-person event but transitioned to a virtual format this year due to the global pandemic.  

The program helps Girl Scouts at the Senior and Ambassador levels (9-12 grades) achieve badges for democracy and public policy. Most of the scouts are members of the Advocacy, Civic Engagement and Service program, which requires a year-long commitment for completion. 

The event featured Supreme Court of Missouri Judge Patricia Breckenridge; Judge Jalilah Otto, 16th Circuit (Jackson Co.) Court; Mischa Buford Epps, executive director of The Missouri Bar; Danielle Atchison, lawyer and chair of The Missouri Bar Advisory Committee on Citizenship Education; and Kate Noland, lawyer and member of the Missouri Bar Board of Governors. 

The girl scouts interacted with the panelists in small breakout groups where they asked questions regarding the panelists’ experiences with the law.  

Dr. Tony Simones, the bar’s director of Citizenship Education, also presented on First Amendment rights. Using the 1969 case of Tinker v. Des Moines, Simones provided an overview of student’s rights and gave the girl scouts a hypothetical situation to discuss.  

This program empowers female high school students by allowing them to see how the law applies in their daily life by using actual cases involving students like themselves,” explained Noland. “It is always interesting to see how the students reflect on matters going on in their school. 

Breaking into smaller virtual classrooms, the girl scouts analyzed the hypothetical situation with guidance from the panelists. Then the young women discussed their findings and perception of how First Amendment rights work. 

Tracy Hull, manager of civic engagement and teen leadership for Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri, was delighted by the program. “The conversations were so dynamic that the teens were still actively adding insight well after time was up.” 

Simones agreed. “The legal professionals loved participating, and the students came away from the experience thinking, Hey, I just talked about an issue with a Supreme Court judge. She’s not so different from me, I believe I can do this, too. 

For more information on civics education programs available through The Missouri Bar Citizenship Education Department contact Dr. Tony Simones, Citizenship Education Director.