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Jarrod Griffin Becomes Youngest Recipient of Solomon Civic Virtue Award

The Missouri Bar Advisory Committee on Citizenship Education awarded Jarrod Griffin, a junior at Nixa High School, the 2015 Dr. Warren H. Solomon Civic Virtue Award during the “We the People” state finals at the Missouri State Capitol on January 26, 2015.

“Jarrod was chosen because he organized four of his fellow classmates at Nixa High School to prepare for the ‘We the People’ state finals as an extra-curricular activity,” said Millie Aulbur, director of The Missouri Bar Citizenship Education Program and state coordinator for the “We the People” program. “How well the Nixa team did at the competition demonstrates his leadership and the commitment the entire team had to not just being part of the state finals, but also to giving it their absolute best effort.”

When presented with the award, Griffin stated that he was accepting the award on behalf of his entire team, Aulbur said.

“I feel so blessed to have received this award and I couldn’t have done it without the hard-working team I was competing with,” Griffin said. “It’s an honor to be the first student ever chosen and I’m humbled that The Missouri Bar thought I was worthy of such an honor.”

Griffin is a unique choice for the 2015 Solomon Award because he is the first student to win the honor. Prior winners include civic educators, college presidents, judges and political leaders.

Greg Kemper, a social studies teacher at Nixa High School and the faculty sponsor of the team, said he is very proud of Griffin and his teammates.

“Jarrod showed extraordinary initiative when he decided to take on the task of competing in the ‘We the People’ competition,” Kemper said. “Jarrod and his teammates did a tremendous amount of work and it was evident at the state finals. I am proud of this group and especially Jarrod’s determination not only to reach out to The Missouri Bar on his own, but also making such a great impression for our school, the first year at this competition.”

Since 2001, The Missouri Bar Advisory Committee for Citizenship Education has annually presented the Dr. Warren H. Solomon Civic Virtue Award to individuals who exemplify civic virtue and who have promoted civic virtue among Missouri’s teachers and students.

The Dr. Warren H. Solomon Award was named for Dr. Warren H. Solomon, a social studies curriculum specialist with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for more than 25 years, who worked tirelessly to promote law-related education among Missouri teachers. Solomon was known for his high civic ideals and leadership guided by the best interests of students, and the advisory committee seeks similar traits in award recipients.

“We were just a couple of students wanting to learn more about our great nation’s founding and the ‘We the People’ competition was the perfect opportunity to do that,” Griffin said. “It was a real blessing to be involved and we were so thankful to The Missouri Bar, our teacher Mr. Kemper and Nixa’s administration for supporting us throughout the competition. We can’t wait to compete next year!”

The “We the People” program, created by the Center for Civic Education, is a nationally acclaimed civic education program helping high school students understand the history, philosophies and evolution of our constitutional government. Students are charged with searching and developing arguments on such topics as “What rights do the Bill of Rights protect?” and “What are the historical foundations of the American political system?” In addition, students must have extensive knowledge of court cases and current events, and are required to write eighteen essays on an array of constitutional issues.

Upon completion of the classroom study, students compete in the form of simulated congressional hearings. A panel of judges, compiled of lawyers, judges, educators and political scientists, evaluated the students’ knowledge and understanding of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Winners of the statewide mock hearings will advance to the “We the People” national finals held in a congressional hearing room on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

“Not only are you learning about the Constitution, but you come to Jefferson City for this congressional-hearing type of style,” Griffin said. “It’s really a great experience for high schoolers and I wish more could do it.”

“Although the Center for Civic Education requires that competing teams be part of a regularly-rostered government class and that there be no less than nine students competing, I told Jarrod that if he and his fellow classmates wanted to do the tremendous amount of work required to compete, they could be part of the state finals,” Aulbur said. “Frankly, I could not imagine five students taking on this ‘Herculean task’ in addition to their other class work and school activities, but they did so and did it in style.”

The winner of the 2015 “We the People” statewide simulated congressional hearings is Westminster Christian Academy of St. Louis, which will represent Missouri at the national “We the People” competition to be held April 25-28, 2015, in Washington, D.C.

Click here to learn more about the “We the People” program.

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