WEST CHESTER (September 19, 2018) – Senator Andy Dinniman was recently joined by local officials and students from schools throughout Chester County to celebrate Constitution Day and kick off the Chester County Intermediate Unit’s Kids Voting Program.

“It’s vital that students and young people understand the ongoing role of the Constitution in shaping our system of government and guaranteeing our rights as Americans,” Dinniman said. “And it’s equally important that they understand the significance of exercising their right to vote as citizens. We have a sacred duty to ensure that the next generation knows and practices values of good citizenship in upholding the fundamental virtues of our nation.”

Dinniman, who serves as minority chair of the Senate Education Committee, helped open the ceremony on the steps of the historic Chester County Courthouse by reading the Preamble to the United States Constitution.

Constitution Day recognizes the adoption of the U.S. Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens. It is normally observed on September 17, the day in 1787 that delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document in Philadelphia.

Originally known as “Citizenship Day,” it was redesignated as “Constitution Day” by Congress in 2005 to commemorate the signing of the Constitution and recognize all who, by coming of age or naturalization, have become citizens.

The act also mandates that all publicly funded educational institutions, and all federal agencies, provide educational programming on the history of the Constitution on that day. And it also requires that the head of every federal agency offer each employee educational and training materials about the Constitution on that day.

Earlier this year, the legislature overwhelmingly passed Act 65 of 2018, based on a bill originally introduced by Dinniman, requiring all high school students to take a test on civics knowledge produced by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The new civics test takes effect in the 2020-2021 school year.

On Monday, Dinniman also joined students from Coatesville Area High School. West Chester Henderson High School, Saint Agnes School and ambassadors from the Chester County Technical College High Schools in launching the 2017 Kids Voting program.

At the event students signed symbolic voter registration cards, pledging to officially register to vote and participate in the election process when they become of age.

Kids Voting is a national network of community-based affiliates that partner with schools and election officials to offer students in Kindergarten through high school a wide range of opportunities for civic learning.

Kids Voting teaches children about the value of voting as well as the requirements and procedures for voting, and develops critical thinking and decision-making skills

As part of the project, the students will study the candidates and issues of this campaign. Parents are also encouraged to spend some time with their children discussing the candidates and issues and gathering information from television, newspapers and magazines.

After classroom preparation, students take part in a voting experience using a ballot that mirrors that of the adults with the same candidates and issues. This “real life” practice dispels the mysteries of the voting process and reinforces the knowledge and skills gained through Kids Voting classroom activities. Voting will take place October 29, through November 6, 2018.

 

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