Special to The Source Newspaper
The Morgan County Bar Association recently conducted its annual essay contest. Eighth grade students from around the county wrote about what the constitution means to them. The three winners were given their awards during a luncheon at the Elks Club last month by the local bar association president, Jenna Tucker.
The essay contest winners are: First Place, Connor Walker; Second Place, Cora Oldenburg; and Third Place, Lydia Keefe.
Read the winning essays that follow.
Connor Walker / 1st Hour / Mr. White
The United States’ Constitution is one of, if not the most important writings in American history, establishing the basis and forthgoings of the government and country as a whole. Written in 1787 and ratified the following year, the Constitution also provides basic liberties and rights to every American citizen. Even though the Constitution only imparts the most necessary rights that allow for a person to live as a human, it has the ability to mean so much more as it is interpreted by different individuals. To me, the U.S. Constitution means freedom, equality, and the ability to truly live.
In the past, the United States’ government did not do nearly enough to protect the rights of minorities and women alike. From allowing slavery to not viewing the native peoples of this land as being humans, it is evident that the Constitution has the ability to, and has, failed many individuals, limiting their freedom. However, the Constitution is able to grow and change with this country and its people. Amendments such as the thirteenth, abolishing slavery, and the nineteenth, granting women the right to vote, are amazing examples of the Constitution changing to better help the people which it governs. As a biracial teenager in this growing world with access to news and social media, I am quite aware of the shortcomings of the Constitution. However, I feel that I can live everyday with a sense of freedom and lack of fear because I know that even though it might not be today, tomorrow, or even fifty years from now, the world and its people will change, and along with them, the Constitution, enabling it to protect those it could not earlier, and allowing for more freedom of its people.
On average, 385,000 children are born every day, and about 10,000 of them are given a better chance at life because they are born in the United States. This isn’t to say that they are more likely to live by being born here, but rather their birth in this country guarantees them a more equal shot at life. The notion that we are granted this more equal chance at life is important, not only to me, but to many Americans. It drives me forward each and every day, and is spawned from the Constitution. Nearly every amendment is designed to make the nation more equal. In the history of the United States, quite a few people, many of whom I idolize, have fought for equality, and even though it took time, many reforms and amendments have come into being because of these individuals. This is only possible because of the Constitution and its ability to change. It is clear that the United States Constitution promotes both change and equality in the country.
All throughout its history, people have moved to America in hopes of a better life. Wanting freedom and a chance to truly live, these people gave up the lives they had and traveled to the United States because they knew that the Constitution of this country ensured them a chance to actually live. In America, there are millions of opportunities for nearly everyone, which is only made possible because of the Constitution and how it was written. Because of the freedom and equality provided by the Constitution, individuals have a chance to do what they want to do and to really live a meaningful and genuine life. These opportunities provided by the Constitution empower and drive my life forward in a worthwhile way.
The Constitution is the foundation of the United States of America. Although it can mean many different things, to me, it conveys freedom, equality, and a chance to live. Covering such a broad range of topics, the Constitution has the ability to represent many different things to different individuals, so what does it mean to you?
Cora Oldenburg / Mrs. Shade / History
What The Constitution Means to Me
Many countries have modeled their laws and Constitutions after the United States’ Constitution. The definition of a Constitution is a body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is acknowledged to be governed. The Constitution signifies freedom for many Americans. The Constitution to me means a guarantee of protected freedoms that allow me to live my best life.
The Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787. The goal was to create a government with enough power to act on a national level, but without too much power to where fundamental rights would be at risk. There are twenty-seven Constitutional amendments, which are a system of checks and balances put into place so that no single branch would have too much authority. The Bill of Rights are the first ten amendments in the Constitution, which are rights for American citizens. The Bill of Rights basically says that my rights can be applied as long as it isn’t harmful to others. When asked about the Constitution, Benjamin Franklin said, “I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such, because I think a central government is necessary for us…I doubt too whether any other convention we can obtain may be able to make a better Constitution.” I agree with Franklin’s interpretation because although the Constitution isn’t perfect it is still effective and necessary in promoting government actions.
The Constitution affects me in many different ways. When I am eighteen I will be able to vote in elections. I will be able to go to church where I want, and not be forced to practice a certain religion. I am able to say and write what I want because of freedom of speech. I can own a gun if I want. When I own property, it cannot be searched without a warrant. Once I am twenty-one I will be able to drink and own alcohol. I can do all of this and more. I am very fortunate to live in a country where I have the freedom to do all of these actions.
The Constitution means different things to me. One message I get from the Constitution is that with great power comes great responsibility. You have to use your rights responsibly and not exploit it. For example the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, is a right that needs to be rethought. Military grade weapons, like AR-15’s, were not the arms that the writers of the Constitution had in mind when they ratified the Constitution. These weapons have been used to inflict great harm upon American civilians. At school, where I am a student, children and teachers should not have to be worried about their safety. The one place most children feel safe is school. With the increase of school shootings involving military weapons, students and teachers cannot feel safe. Around ten percent of families want to homeschool their children after school shootings. If people want to own guns, they have to use them responsibly. One-hundred-ten children between the ages of zero and fourteen die by unintentional firearms in their homes. People that own guns need to make sure their kids do not have access to these weapons. The Constitution gives people the freedom to own guns, as long as they aren’t harming others.
The Constitution is important for many reasons. It gives people the freedom to do actions responsibly and speak freely. The Constitution has been around for over two-hundred years and is still the supreme law of the land. To me the Constitution means I have protected freedoms that allow me to live my best life.
“Children and Unintentional Firearm Death” David Hemenway & Sara J. Solnick, BioMed Central Ltd, 2023,
“Constitution” History.com Editors, A&E Television Networks,LLC, 2023,
“The Alternative to Learning Under the Gun”, Mel Magazine, 2023,
“The Constitution of the United States: Fast Facts” National Constitution Center,2023,
“ Why a Constitution?” The White House.gov, The White House, 2023,
“Why is the U.S. Constitution Important?” Charter College, Charter College, 2023,
Thank you, Constitution!
By Lydia Keefe
The Constitution means so many things to so many people. What the Constitution means to you could be completely different from how your neighbor feels about it. The Constitution outlines the fundamental rights of men, women, and children, along with defining the law of the U.S Federal government. The Constitution has helped so many such as African Americans, women, children and so many more. Thanks to the 13th, 14th, and 15th, African Americans are now free, have citizen rights, and can vote in elections. Women were also given the right to vote with the 19th amendment passing.
The 13th amendment was signed by Abraham Lincoln on January 31, 1965. The 13th amendment abolished slavery in the United States. According to Constitutioncenter.org, the 13th amendment stated, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” On July 9th, three years later, the 14th amendment was passed. The amendment gave former freed slaves proper citizenship. Those born in the United States were given equal protection under the law. Not even a year later, on February 26, 1869, the 15th amendment was passed. With a vote of 39 to 15, Ulysses S. Grant got his way and African Americans were given the right to vote in elections. Now know matter what color or race you were, you could not be denied the right to vote. Although these amendments did not eliminate racism altogether, it was the first step towards the promise of equality. Personally I see these effects because if these laws were not implemented the contributions of some african americans such as Neil deGrasse Tyson, Kathrine Johnson and Daniel Hale Williams III, would not have been possible. Neil deGrasse Tyson has used his voice to popularize science and bring awarness to astrophysics. Without Kathrin Johnson, lots of people would have died trying to go to space. She figured out how to use math to send shuttles out of earth safely, and found out how planets orbit the sun. She changed space exploration forever and without her the project would have failed. Open heart surgerys are a big thing in today’s world and without them many would die, but thanks to Daniel Hale Williams III Heart surgery is possible. He performed the first successful heart surgery in the summer of 1893. If African Americans were never given the rights to be citizens many things would be different. People with heart conditions, like my aunt Marilyn, would not be able to survive, we would not be able to explore space and learn about the world we live in.
Women have also come a long way from the beginning of the Constitution. Before the 19th amendment, men thought that women were simply made for working in the house and raising the children. But on August 20, 1920, the 19th amendment to the U.S. The Constitution gave women the right to vote. Therefore under the law of Woodrow willson, the 19th amendment was passed. The bill stated that anyone no matter what sex, shall not be denied the right to vote. Though this was the only amendment made for women, it changed everything for us. Women were no longer viewed like before, but as real people. Women like Rosland Franklin, Mary Wollstoncraft and Ada Lovelace would not be able to do what they did if the 19th amendment wasn’t passed. Ada Lovelace is considered the first computer programmer. She figured out that a computer follows basic instructions to follow the program. Without Ada life as we know it today would not be the same. Rosland Franklin, the woman who discovered the structure of the DNA. Mary Wollstoncraft was a woman willing to fight for her rights. She wrote a Womens books book that was published in 1790. Without these women lots of things would look different. For example I use my phone to talk to alot of my friends, without Ada Lovelace that would not be possible. Although the 19th amendment was only for women’s right to vote, it was the kickstarter women needed to fight for their rights.
The Constitution means a lot of things to alot of people. Everyone can agree that with the Constitution, African Americans, women and many more groups of people have come a very long way from the beginning. African Americans went from being slaves and being treated like animals, to being citizens and being able to vote. Women have also come a long way. From being told they have to stay in the house to being able to vote and fight for their rights. Without these amendments so many things in my everyday life would be different, I wouldn’t have some of my friends and family, and I wouldn’t be able to make decisions to better this country.