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Students recognized for citizenship, legal knowledge

The Missouri Bar’s tradition of celebrating citizenship and legal education continued Monday as students from across the state gathered in Jefferson City for the 2018 Outstanding Citizenship and Law Day Awards. During the luncheon portion of the event, Missouri Bar Executive Director Sebrina Barrett and 2017-18 Missouri Bar President Morry Cole congratulated the recipients, as well as their family members and teachers who attended as guests.

“It is wonderful to see so many students who appreciate the law and the equal opportunities it affords all of us,” Cole said. “If the quality of these students is any indication, our future is going to be very bright.”

Seven Missouri students were recognized with an award for Outstanding Achievement in Citizenship by The Missouri Bar and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. To qualify, students demonstrate academic competence in government and civics courses, complete exceptional participation in civics and government-related extracurricular activities and perform exemplary community service. Students were also asked to pen an essay about what constitutes an effective citizen.

For Thomas Fisk, a senior at Arcadia Valley R-II High School, that meant focusing on the leadership and service of Missouri’s Harry S Truman.

“He was very politically active, even as a young man,” Fisk said. “He was a very effective leader. He’s pretty much what I see as a good citizen.”

Fisk, too, is a leader, serving in executive roles for many of his school’s clubs, including student council and National Honor Society. Fisk says he finds time to do it all because he believes it is important to serve others. Fisk plans to attend either Stanford or Columbia University this fall and hopes to eventually study law.

Cara Cha focused her essay on Friends in Service of Heroes, an organization aimed at supporting U.S. veterans. Cha, a freshman at Lee’s Summit High School, spends a significant amount of free time volunteering with the group.

“It’s always been a very crucial part of my life,” Cha said. “I have been given a very wonderful opportunity.”

Additionally, nine individuals were honored for essays that centered on the 2018 Law Day theme “Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom.” For the contest sponsored by The Missouri Bar Young Lawyers’ Section and the Missouri NEA, students in fourth grade through high school were challenged to write about this constitutional concept and what it means today.

Camdenton Middle School student Isabella DeFranco received third place in her age group and said she looked for both current and past examples of the Separation of Powers when working on her essay.

“The Constitution is more than just a piece of paper,” DeFranco wrote. “It is a living document, created by the Founders of our country, that we live by to protect us.”

Catryn Cattoor, a student at Jefferson High School, also cited historical examples of the Separation of Powers in action, including in past court cases, within her research.

“The system of checks and balances embedded in the government’s current structure is the same system rigorously scrutinized by members of the Constitutional Convention,” Cattoor wrote. “As intended, Separation of Powers allows each branch to perform its enumerated functions without dominating one another.”

Cattoor’s essay ranked first in the high school age group.

The Young Lawyers’ Section was also on hand to name a winner in its annual Law Day Art Contest. Dylan S. Rooks, a student at Kirksville Primary School, received top honors for his depiction of three separate houses and George Washington, symbolic of the Separation of Powers.

Additional photos from the awards ceremony are available here.

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