Attorneys teach students the value of ‘We the people’
by Sara Crocker
It was the “Preamble” song from “Schoolhouse Rock!” that helped attorney Rick Holzer remember the introduction to the U.S. Constitution and those first three important words, “We the people…”
On Sept. 16, Holzer was one of 43 attorneys who visited Denver Public Schools to teach fifth-grade students the importance of the Constitution in honor of National Constitution Day.
“The Constitution is the supreme law of the land,” Holzer told the 25 students he visited at McGlone Elementary School. “Everyone has to follow the Constitution.”
While in Anna Kwan’s class, Holzer, a partner in Hensley Kim & Holzer, gave a history lesson first, explaining how the Revolutionary War and the Declaration of Independence led to the creation of the Constitution. It was the desire for independence that led to the decision to draft a document that would explain how the country would be run, he said.
He then showed students the “Preamble” cartoon he had watched when he was younger.
The phrase, “We the people” makes an important distinction, Holzer said. “Not the king, not the ministers—it’s talking about everybody.”
National Constitution Day was adopted by Congress in 2004 to commemorate the signing of the document on Sept. 17, 1787. The push for such a day came from the late Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., who reportedly carried a copy of the Constitution in his pocket.
The Denver Bar Association Democracy Education Committee, in collaboration with the nonprofit Liberty Day, arranged for 43 attorneys to visit classrooms over three days to teach and quiz students about the Constitution. This marked the fifth year the DBA has brought attorneys into the classroom to teach the importance of this document and show students how it can affect their daily lives.
Though Kwan’s students won’t start learning about the Constitution until the spring, she and Holzer agreed this was a unique way to introduce the topic.
Luis Dealtan said he hadn’t heard about the Constitution before Holzer visited his class, but he thought it was very interesting.
“I think it was a good start,” Holzer said. “[The students] certainly had fun.”
It was the first time Kwan had an attorney visit her classroom. She said she appreciated Holzer coming not only to offer students a preview of what they’ll learn later in the school year but also because he told them about his career and what skills he uses every day.
She said it was great that Holzer also explained his background as an engineer before he became an intellectual property attorney because her students were able to meet someone who has used math, science, reading, and writing in his career.
“It’s real-world application,” she said.
It was also the first time Holzer had volunteered with the DBA.
Fifth grader Breanna Farbes was impressed by Holzer’s teaching skills.
“I think he was nice and that he can be a teacher if he wanted to,” the 10-year-old said.
Special thanks to all the volunteers who brought the important message of the Constitution into the classroom: Harlan Abrahams, Michelle Adams, Matthew Baker, Harisha Bastiampillai, Ilene P. Buchalter, Robert W. Carney, Mike Carroll, Holli Colburn, Joshua Crawley, Adam Foster, Jason Gardner, Paul Gordon, Brad Hill, Paige K. Hogan, Rick Holzer, Alexander Hornaday, Wesley Howard, Courtney L. Johnston, Raymond D. Jones, Jeffrey Knetsch, Amy L. Kramer, Tom Kranidas, Monica L. C. Lester, Cara Lohmeyer, Michael J. Mirabella, Lynda McNeive, Bruce A. Menk, Lisa F. Mickley, Charles Nadler, Bradley O’Brien, Aleene Ortiz-White, Chris Ottele, Sean P. Paris, Carolyn S. Powell, Heath R. Roettig, Robert Rosenthal, Carlos Rueda, William T. Slamkowski, Thomas W. Snyder, Elizabeth Thomas, Jennifer L. Weinfeld, Clayton E. Wire, and Dave Zinger.