When the framers of the United States Constitution created it, they could not have foreseen some of the advancements that have been instituted into our society, such as cell phones, video cameras, computers and DNA testing. Yet, the document they wrote more than 200 years ago still applies in areas everywhere throughout society.
Twelve students from SSD’s North Technical High School participated in the Constitution Project during 2015, along with students from 15 other schools throughout Missouri. The Constitution Project is an intensive, interactive competition in which high school students gain experience in the fields of crime scene investigation, journalism and trial advocacy. Although there are local professionals to mentor the students along the way, the mock crime scene, reporting and trial are all led by students.
“It was different,” said Tyrese Mcmorise, a junior in North Tech’s Law Enforcement program. “The vibe and feeling of everything to see kids my age in an environment like that was different.
Now in its third year, the Constitution Project is hosted by the Supreme Court of Missouri’s Committee on Civic Education. Students attended a kickoff in Jefferson City where they met with industry field leaders, and later heard from Missouri legislators and Missouri Chief Justice Patricia Breckenridge. After the kickoff, competitions began throughout the state in the three disciplines. The crime scene and journalism portion of the competition was held at Lindenwood University for those in the eastern region. The law advocacy portion was held at the University of Missouri School of Law.
The mission of the competition is twofold. First, to give students the hands-on experience in possible careers they may choose to pursue. Secondly, it is to give students a greater understanding and love for the Constitution through personal experiences dealing with the concepts of freedom of the press, due process and the right to a trial by jury.
“It helps students to understand how the Constitution applies to every area of our discipline,” said Clarence Hines, Law Enforcement instructor at North Tech. “Nothing in law enforcement moves without it having to answer to the Constitution.”
The North Tech team took 12 students from the Law Enforcement program to the competition—four in each category.
Along with Chrishey Wilkes, who was named an All-Star for her work on the CSI team, Tyrese took home All-Star honors as a member of the journalism team.
“We came together as a group and tried to come up with the best story possible,” Tyrese said. “It was difficult at first, but once we put our minds together it was good.”
Hines said the experience was very positive, and he plans to have students participate in the Constitution Project next year. “It gives students an idea that the Constitution shapes what we do in criminal justice,“ he said. “It gives us an appreciation for the forefathers and how much foresight they had.”