In an effort to encourage the timely development of programs to mark Constitution Day on Sept. 17, 2008, the State Bar of Michigan Public Outreach Committee has developed planning materials, including a timeline, to aid attorneys and bar associations in leading observances in their area.
"Constitution Day celebrates the signing of our founding document in 1787, and ceremonies or activities to recognize our constitutional heritage are perfect ways for lawyers and bar associations to volunteer their experience and knowledge to young people," said Ron Keefe, president of the State Bar of Michigan. "The months of May and June are optimal for contacting schools to arrange a suitable Constitution Day activity, because of the short time frame between the opening of school and Sept. 17."
Lori Buiteweg, the SBM commissioner liaison to the Public Outreach Committee, took part in a fifth-grade Constitution Day courthouse visit last year and highly recommends it. "Participation does not take much time and the reward is in the invaluable interaction with the kids," she said.
In 2005, Congress passed legislation requiring all educational institutions receiving federal funding to sponsor Constitution Day programs. Michigan lawyers and others have developed programs to aid in these efforts, in part because Michigan has a similar law requiring schools to observe Constitution Day with "a proper an appropriate commemorative exercise" that may include the assignment of schoolwork to teach the significance of the day.
For more information on Constitution Day, the planning timeline, or activities suitable for the classroom, please see the Constitution Day Website.