Published: Sept. 12, 2011

The University of Colorado Boulder will celebrate Constitution Day with campus events including a student journalism panel and the launch of a new program at the University of Colorado Law School that will send CU law students to high school classrooms throughout the state to discuss the First Amendment.

Constitution Day is a national event that annually commemorates the Sept. 17, 1787, signing of the United States Constitution. It is being observed on Sept. 16 this year.

Throughout the week leading up to Constitution Day, the law school's Byron White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law will launch its Constitution Day Project by sending 60 law students to teach in 50 high school classrooms around the state. Each student will lead a one-period discussion about the First Amendment in classrooms in Boulder, Longmont, Adams County, Denver, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Kremmling, Glenwood Springs and Carbondale.

Each lesson includes a discussion of the First Amendment and the principles behind it, and an exploration of cases that apply the First Amendment in disputes between students and schools. The lesson concludes with a student debate involving a hypothetical situation that applies the First Amendment to a student Facebook posting. Melissa Hart, director of the Byron White Center, and student fellows Laura McNabb and Gavin Wolny developed the new lesson.

On campus, CU-Boulder's Journalism and Mass Communication program and the Colorado High School Press Association are co-sponsoring a Constitution Day event that is expected to bring more than 100 high school students and their advisers to campus. The event, which will be held Saturday, Sept. 17, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Eaton Humanities Building, will include a student editorial-writing contest in which students from the participating schools will write editorials on topics involving the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The event includes a panel discussion with the co-editors of the Overland High School student newspaper who made national news last spring over a publishing dispute with their principal. Steve Zansberg, one of Colorado's leading media attorneys, will give the event's keynote address.

CU-Boulder's Center for Western Civilization also will host a free, public talk by best-selling author Thomas Woods of the Ludwig von Mises Institute on Thursday, Sept. 15. Woods' talk, "Small is Beautiful: The Neglected Case for Human Scale in a World of Megastates," will be held at 6 p.m. in the Hellems Arts and Sciences Building, room 252.

CU law student Dave Digiacomo talks about constitutional law with a group of South High School students in Denver. (Photo by Patrick Campbell/University of Colorado)