The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 26, 2011

Students enjoy class for political reasons

EHS Constitution program an ongoing endeavor as pupils work toward D.C.

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID — To hear one team member tell it, getting ready for the We the People national finals is like writing an essay that never will be finished.

As the 22 members of Enid High School’s Constitution team drill and prepare for April’s final competition in Washington, D.C., they work on, and constantly revise, their essay.

“It’s never done. It always changes,” Marli Sussmann said.

But Marli said she’s has her reasons to be glad she enrolled in the class this year. Instead of relying on what she hears adults around her say about political and civic issues, she has come to her own understanding.

“Now I actually know and can make my own conclusions,” Marli said.

It’s a favorite sentiment of others in her class.

“I wanted to take it to have a better understanding of the government around me,” teammate Logan Corter said. “I didn’t know squat about politics until now.”

Both are on the same team unit, preparing and re-preparing presentations on “How Did the Framers Create the Constitution?”

At another table in Matt Holtzen’s Constitution class on a recent morning, retired teacher Cheri Franklin, who used to teach the Constitution class, drills another unit working on their presentation, “What Challenges Might Face American Constitutional Democracy in the 21st Century?”

Franklin coached the students both on what themes they’d want to include and effective presentation techniques with which to impress the judges during the final competition — a simulated congressional hearing.

Franklin is only one community volunteer who works with the members of the Constitution Team. On Sundays, community members whose livelihoods come from the arena of civics the students are learning about — like lawyers and judges — meet with the team to help them drill and prepare.

But, really, the key to Enid High School’s amazing track record of 17 state titles captured to date is the dedication of the team members, Holtzen said.

“It falls back to the kids — their determination, their willingness and their dedication to the program,” Holtzen said. “I think it’s also the support of the community. They come to class knowing that Enid supports the Constitution class.”

That community support also is important in raising the $33,000 needed to make the trip to the national competition. A number of fundraising events are on the agenda.

A garage sale is slated for March 5, and items to be sold are being collected. Donations can be given through any Constitution team member or sent to Enid High School.

The team will get a percentage of the proceeds from restaurant sales at several dine-out events:

• Cafe Garcia, 324 S Grand, 5-10 p.m. Thursday.

• Wings To Go, 2316 W. Garriott, all day Saturday.

• Chili’s Grill and Bar, 3620 W. Garriott, 3:30-10:30 p.m., March 8. Diners must have a flier from a Constitution class member.

• Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar, 8-10 a.m. April 16, pancake breakfast.

Cash donations, which are tax deductible, also are being accepted to defray the cost of the trip.