A Constitution Day civics lesson turned into a two-week study of government, business and community service for students at Sunrise Elementary.
It all started on Sept. 17, which is known as Constitution Day, a federal observance that recognizes the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. On that day in 1787, the Constitution was signed by delegates to the Constitutional Convention, which was held in Philadelphia.
On that day in 2018, the fourth-graders in Jolie Hendricks’ class were studying the Constitution, which divides the federal government into three branches to ensure that no one group or person has too much power. The students became the legislative branch, dividing into two groups representing the Senate and the House of Representatives. Hendricks served as the executive branch and the Sunrise Principal Chris Hardy represented the judicial branch. The students were charged with proposing, debating and passing a law of their own choosing.
“When I’ve done this exercise in the past, the students voted for things like having snacks in the classroom or watching a movie,” Hendricks said. “But this year they voted to do something for someone else, and I was really impressed with that.”
In fact, the students passed a law establishing a school bake sale with all proceeds going to the Ronald McDonald House to benefit sick children and their families. The Ronald McDonald House provides a place for families to stay while their child is treated at a nearby hospital.
Once the law was passed, the fourth-graders began working on everything needed to hold a bake sale at the end of the school day on the following Friday.
“We talked about supply and demand as we priced things. We talked about marketing and how you promote things. We learned how to make change,” Hendricks explained. “It was really a whole business lesson in addition to the study of government.”
When the big day came, the students were ready. In just 15 minutes, they raised $102 for the Ronald McDonald House.
"It was kind of surreal because I could help people,” fourth-grader Gabriella Lopez said. “When everyone was gathering around to buy stuff, it made me think how much money we could get and how much it will help."
"It was like a journey,” added fellow fourth-grader Jack Daly. “We just thought about what we could do for people and how to make things better. It feels warm inside to be helping other people."
Hendricks said the project helped her students gain an understanding of civics, business, community service and the importance of collaboration.
“In talking to them after the sale, many expressed that they liked how a small idea became a big idea when many people contributed,” Hendricks said. “In other words, working together to make an idea the best it could be was a big take-away for them.”