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Philadelphia schools celebrate Constitution Day with activities and events

Exterior of the Constitution center.
Darryl Murphy

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Sunday marked the 230th anniversary of Constitution Day, when the founding fathers gathered for the last time to sign the document that would govern the United States of America.

In celebration of the day, the National Constitution Center, 525 Arch St., opened its doors to the public for free and welcomed students from all over the country to participate in activities and events celebrating the historic document.

The activities included a challenge, in which students recited the preamble; meet and greets with people dressed as the founding fathers; and a naturalization ceremony where immigrants took the Oath of Allegiance to become official citizens of the United States.

Also, philanthropist David Rubenstein, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and documentary filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick were among the invited guest speakers.

Some Philadelphia schools joined the celebration. Students from Constitution High School, a citywide admission school, celebrated the day with their annual visit to the Constitution Center. In the Spring Garden section of the city, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Phillies pitcher Jerad Eickhoff visited students at Julia R. Masterman for a preamble challenge at the school.

“It’s a fun and engaging way for students to get excited about the Constitution,” said Carl Ackerman, an Advanced Placement Government teacher at Constitution High. “It’s really neat because you get so many kids from across the city. And it’s a real special day of everybody having fun. The most number of people that I’ve ever seen in the museum is on Constitution Day, and everybody is just going around having fun celebrating the Constitution.”

The Constitution Center is the first and only institution established by Congress to share non-partisan information about the Constitution. The center hosts a number of political debates and discussions, as well as interactive exhibits, to teach and honor the historic document.

“Constitution Day is our signature day that we highlight everything that we do all year round,” said Jenna Kheres, museum program manager.

Xavier Wayman, a junior at Constitution High, said that this year marked his second visit to the Constitution Center and that the trip was important because it’s “more facts for me to know.”

“Our knowledge of our past is still power. Knowledge is power, ultimately,” he said.

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