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Inside PGCPS

Local Case up for Debate on Constitution Day

Local Case up for Debate on Constitution Day

  • For Parents |
  • In the News |
  • Student Voice |
  • September 17, 2019

On Tuesday, September 17, students across the school system participated in civics-focused activities for Constitution Day!

At Potomac High School, juniors and seniors in Nissa Copemann’s history class — part of the Law and Public Service program — focused on local history: the Bladensburg Peace Cross case (Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission v. American Humanist Association). Recently decided in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Peace Cross case considers First Amendment issues around religion.

To bring the case to life, students staged a mini-moot court during which they took on roles as Supreme Court justices, petitioners and respondents to analyze facts, construct arguments and generate a decision on the case. The lesson was guided by a curriculum developed in partnership with Street Law, a nonprofit that develops programs and teaching materials to educate students about law and government.

In addition to honing independent analysis and critical thinking skills, classes under the Law, Education, and Public Service program introduce students to all avenues of law. Many in Ms. Copemann’s class express interest in legal careers. 

A few student plans: junior Jasmine Riddick hopes to pursue a career as a defense attorney; Liliana Orellana wants to attend law school, likely with a focus on immigration law; and Tania Willis says she aspires to work as a foreign service officer after taking the class and traveling to the U.S. Embassy in Ghana.

Each year, Constitution Day commemorates the September 17, 1787 signing of the U.S. Constitution. The Prince George's County Board of Education this year approved a proclamation declaring Constitution Day a systemwide priority dedicated to teaching the ideals of democracy.