Merced County Times Newspaper
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Young Patriots Challenge teaches kids about U. S. Constitution

During Constitution Week, students have the opportunity to learn about the Founding Fathers like George Washington, James Madison, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin.
During Constitution Week, students have the opportunity to learn about the Founding Fathers like George Washington, James Madison, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin.

The Young Patriots Challenge (YPC), a local contest with a patriotic theme, will be held in Atwater between Sept. 13 and 17.

Because our citizens’ Constitutional protections and rights were fundamental to our nation’s founding, a local group of Merced County volunteers organized to assist public school and home school teachers in meeting the Federal mandate of Constitution Day instruction, and their aim is to make learning about the U. S. Constitution and Government challenging and fun.

Adolphus Speights, Jr., a YPC Committee member, told the Times, “In 2004, a public law was passed that required any educational institution that received Federal funds to take some time during Constitution Week to teach students about the U. S. Constitution as part of History (or other) lessons.

“A group of us locally hold a common belief in the Constitution as the law of our Republic, and we do the Challenge starting Sept. 17 because Sept. 17, 1787 was the day the Constitution was signed, so it’s Constitution Day.  The Challenge then evolved and began encompassing Constitution Week, from Sept. 17 through 23.

“What we do as a group is support the local teachers in teaching what has been mandated, and the way we do that is to give them a framework of reference we’ve developed that they can use to work with the students.”

Barbara Riis-Christensen, the YPC Committee Chairperson, told the Times, “During Constitution Week, students have the opportunity to learn about why the U. S. Constitution is important and to know more about the Founding Fathers of our country like George Washington, James Madison and John Adams and study the principles they believed in.  Abraham Lincoln, our sixteenth President, idolized the Founding Fathers.  A quote from Abraham Lincoln that I admire is:  ‘Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution.  That must be maintained for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.’”

Describing the Challenge, Speights explained, “We focus on three areas for the contest:  The younger students create posters, the middle schoolers write essays, and the high school students write and give speeches.  The essays and speeches are on topics relating to the Constitution and the nation.

“The theme of the contest is a question, and this year the question is: ‘Which U. S. Constitutional rights and freedoms protected from government interference are most important to you?  Explain why.’

“The poster theme this year is a symbol of our nation, such as the Statue of Liberty.

“This is YPC’s ninth year.  Anyone in Merced County in Kindergarten through Grade 12 can participate in the Challenge, and those interested who are being home schooled can also participate.

“We have crews who review all the essays and speeches and look at all the posters and select first, second and third place winners from each grade level.

“The awards ceremony will be held on Oct. 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Atwater Community Center, 760 E. Bellevue Road.

“We will put up a lot of the posters in the Merced Mall on six enormous poster boards about the size of a blackboard.  They will be displayed for a couple weeks, and the first, second and third place winners will be identified.


For more information, those interested can go online to, or call Riis-Christensen at 358-8404.

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