On September 17, 1787, delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the last time to sign the document they had been meeting since May to create. None other than George Washington presided over the committee that drafted the United States Constitution to replace the first ordered form of government in the country, the Articles of Confederation. Of the 55 delegates that attended the constitutional convention in Philadelphia that summer, 39 stayed and signed the final document that then underwent intense scrutiny and debate across the country until it was finally approved by enough states to put it into effect. New Hampshire was the ninth state to ratify in June of 1788. Virginia (June), New York (July), North Carolina (1789), and Rhode Island (1790) soon joined the union making the transformation of our national government complete. Every year we celebrate Constitution Day in our schools.
At Pioneer Elementary, students learned how to connect the concept of classroom rules to the concept of a constitution. Some classes watched a Discovery Education video about the Constitution, and other classes used their Scholastic News subscription to study the story of the Constitution. Some classes learned about the American flag and how it has changed from the original thirteen states to fifty. Several classes at Park School watched educational videos about the Constitution, while a couple of 4th grade classes performed a “Readers’ Theatre” and a couple of 5th grade classes discussed the Preamble to the Constitution. The Social Studies classes at Weiser Middle School had several activities planned around the Constitution including having students compare and contrast our form of government with the government of Ancient Greece. Other classes spent time learning about the three branches of government created by the Constitution, and other classes learned about the Bill of Rights and the protections inherent in those first 10 amendments to the Constitution. In history classes at Weiser High School students learned how the experiences of the colonists who settled in the New World led to the patterns of government and individual freedoms that became the foundational principles in the Constitution. Government students used several original documents (Preamble to the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and the Gettysburg Address) to understand how the concept of popular sovereignty (the power to govern emanates from the people) is reflected in those documents.
The Idaho Legislature has adopted legislation requiring schools to celebrate the United States Constitution on or near September 17th each year. We are proud to participate in this annual celebration of our national heritage.