High school students earn top honors in statewide finals of 2017 Constitution Project

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – 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.

Journalism winners:
* 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.

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