Essay contest poses the question to kids: ‘What does the First Amendment mean to you?’

Mike DeNardo
December 16, 2018 - 4:00 am

Mike DeNardo/KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- A constitutional question that plenty of adults are considering these days was posed to Delaware Valley schoolchildren this past week.

The essay topic before the fourth-and-fifth-graders: ‘Why is the First Amendment important to you?’

The finals of the competition, presented by the Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement, brought a dozen classrooms to the Constitution Center, and made their arguments through skits.

"I'm asking people to sign this petition to stop the pipeline,” asked one student. “Do you want to sign?"

"Yeah, sure," another student replied.

And by answering questions from a panel of judges, which included Federal Appeals Court Judge Marjorie Rendell.

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"Tell us a little bit more about what you mean by the First Amendment being a shield," she asked.

The panel also included former Gov. Ed Rendell.

"I was amazed at how well the kids grasped the five basic freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment,” he said. “Most adults couldn't name one or two."

If you're having trouble, the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, the press, religion assembly, and freedom to petition the government.

So who was the winning classroom?  Christine Delesandro's fifth graders, from Philadelphia's Anne Frank Elementary, took the $1,000 prize.