The Supreme Court of Missouri has recognized the winners of the 2017 statewide finals of Missouri’s Constitution Project, an intensive, experiential competition in which high school students gain experience in the fields of journalism, crime scene investigation and trial advocacy.
Individuals from twelve schools earned awards in this statewide competition, now in its fifth year, that is sponsored by the Court’s civic education committee.
“I am optimistic about the future of our state and our country because it is apparent, based on these students’ participation, that they understand the importance of protecting our constitutional rights,” Missouri Chief Justice Zel M. Fischer said during a ceremony Wednesday evening.
Fischer was joined at the ceremony at the Missouri Capitol Building by Supreme Court of Missouri Judges Mary R. Russell and W. Brent Powell; Judge Lisa Page, a judge of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, and civic education committee chair; and Army Staff Sergeant and Purple Heart recipient Robert Canine. The ceremony was the culmination of a rigorous daylong competition involving students representing 12 schools who advanced from regional competitions to compete in the finals in Jefferson City.
Individual and team honors were given in three categories: First Amendment awards, recognizing journalists; Fifth Amendment awards, recognizing crime scene investigators; and Sixth Amendment awards, recognizing trial advocates.
The First Amendment Award for outstanding performance in Journalism was won by Cade Winfrey of Lebanon High School in Lebanon. The First Amendment Award for outstanding achievement was won Jacob Moss of Houston High School in Houston. The First Amendment Team Award was presented to the journalism team from Houston High School.
Crime scene investigation winners:
The Fifth Amendment Award for outstanding performance in Crime Scene Investigation was won by Courtney Colench of Rolla High School in Rolla. The Fifth Amendment Award for outstanding achievement was won by Kalya Scott of North Technical High School in Florissant. The Fifth Amendment Team Award was presented to the crime scene investigation team from Rolla High School.
Trial advocacy winners:
The Sixth Amendment Award for outstanding performance in Trial Advocacy was won by Sidney Coffee of Camdenton High School in Camdenton. The Sixth Amendment Award for outstanding achievement was won by Thomas Booker of Rolla High School. The Sixth Amendment Team Award was presented to the trial advocacy team from Rolla High School.
Several special awards also were presented. The first was the Scout Award, named for the young heroine of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird and given in recognition for a student’s exceptional diligence in seeking truth, justice, and freedom. The award was won by Taylor Chipps, a four-year veteran captain of Houston High School’s crime scene investigation team.
The Patriot’s Heart Award – given to memorialize Vietnam hero Willie McVae, who gave his life for his fellow soldiers and to preserve our ongoing freedoms – was presented by McVae’s friend and comrade, Don Hentges, to MacKenzie Clayton of the Rolla High School, also a four-year veteran captain of Rolla’s crime scene investigation team.
The Witherspoon Award, in recognition of an outstanding teacher or mentor, was won by Michael Wersching, teacher at School of the Osage High School in Osage Beach, leading his team for the fifth consecutive year in the competition.
In a ceremony that included members of the armed services and veterans, each of the 12 schools involved in this year’s Constitution Project was presented with a United States flag that has flown over Missouri’s capitol building in Jefferson City.
Finally, a traveling “Freedom Cup” was earned by the grand champion, Rolla High School. This is the fourth time the school has competed in the Constitution Project, a statewide competition sponsored by the Supreme Court’s civic education committee.