Students display Constitutional knowledge during 2019 state competition
Joplin High School wins top honors
Joplin High School took top honors Monday when students from across the state met in Columbia for The Missouri Bar’s Show-Me the Constitution competition.
Joplin High School took top honors Monday when students from across the state met in Columbia for The Missouri Bar’s Show-Me the Constitution competition. Second place went to Nixa High School, while Central High School in Springfield took third. The three winning teams also secured prize money for civics-centered programs and initiatives in their schools.
During the competition, teams of students presented their positions on a series of constitutional questions via a mock-Congressional hearing format. Competition judges then asked follow-up questions about the teams’ positions. One topic under debate was the role of the Electoral College and whether that system has met the original goals of the framers of the Constitution. Another topic revolved around the partition of power between the three branches of government. The final question debated concerned Fourth Amendment protections.
Judges evaluated the competitors’ knowledge and understanding of the Constitution and their performances based on constitutional application, reasoning and supporting evidence, among other criteria. Five judges, 10 lawyers, three teachers and the Boone County Clerk participated as arbiters of the competition.
First-time competition judge, Hon. Jason Sengheiser, remarked on the importance of civic education in schools.
“These kids have been very impressive dealing with really difficult issues,” Sengheiser said. “I’m a judge in the City of St. Louis, and often I hear lawyers giving arguments on similar issues. These kids stack up pretty well against lawyers who are seasoned attorneys.”
More than 50 students from seven schools competed. They included:
- Cole R-V
- Dixon High School
- Joplin High School
- Nixa High School
- Kickapoo High School
- Springfield Central High School
- St. Genevieve High School
The Missouri Bar launched Show-Me the Constitution in 2015 but has coordinated a mock-congressional hearing competition since 1999. The program is sponsored by The Missouri Bar Young Lawyers’ Section and the state bar’s Citizenship Education program.
“This program trains and empowers the next generation of citizens and leaders. I can’t think of more important work to do,” Dr. Tony Simones, director of the Citizenship Education program, said. “The only reason this happens is because of the contribution of volunteers and the support of the Young Lawyers’ Section of The Missouri Bar. We deeply appreciate their assistance in this competition.”
“I think that this program is really beneficial, especially for kids who want to go into political science,” said Sai Vuda, a senior at Central High School in Springfield, who plans on pursuing a career in that area. “It’s a great way to expand your world view on things that pertain to the U.S. government. I don’t think we get a lot of exposure to that in our everyday classes, so I think this competition provides a unique pathway.”
Braeden Short, a sophomore at Cole R-V, is also interested in political science and hopes to become a lawyer.
“This is kind of a natural progression,” said Short. “It has really helped me learn more about the Constitution, and it has challenged my viewpoints.”
The Missouri Bar is a statewide organization that is dedicated to improving the legal profession, the law and the administration of justice for all Missourians. Created in 1944 by order of the Supreme Court of Missouri, it serves all 30,000 of Missouri’s practicing attorneys. To achieve its mission, The Missouri Bar provides a wide range of services and resources to its members, as well as the media, educators and the citizens of Missouri. To learn more about The Missouri Bar, visit MoBar.org and MissouriLawyersHelp.org.