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Bar News - August 20, 2014

Civics in Action Now for Kids


Keene attorney Peter Heed teaches students about civics and leadership at the Jaffrey-Rindge Rotary’s Quest camp program on the Franklin Pierce campus in Rindge on July 10 as part of the NH Bar’s Civics in Action Goes Viral Program.
Civics in Action, a Bar Association program that has seen volunteer lawyers administer the US naturalization test to community groups around the state, has expanded to provide the same civics education to school age kids.

Peter Heed and David Tower presented the Civics in Action program to a group of at-risk middle school students July 10 at Camp Quest, a summer camp program that combines academics with traditional camp activities. Held at the Franklin Pierce campus in Rindge, the camp is a project of the Jaffrey-Rindge Rotary Club.

The attorneys used flash cards and asked the students to match the questions with the answers, Heed said, and they initiated a dialogue about each topic, weaving in examples from history and current events.

“David and I go back and forth with a little banter on each question and our experience with the issue in court and so forth,” Heed said. “It’s amazing to me how so many kids are not getting this information in our schools, and that’s one of the things we’re trying to address.”

Heed and Tower also talked about community leadership with the students. Heed, who had presented the Civics in Action program to several Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, said the students were engaged in the discussions and seemed to be genuinely interested in the material.

“History and understanding of how our government functions has always been a passion of mine, and now bringing it to a younger group is really fun, and it’s rewarding,” he said.

Afterwards, Heed switched hats and got into his kayak to give the students a paddling lesson. He said the whole day was a blast and he hopes to repeat the experience. “It was a great fit with this program, so I’m sure we’ll be going back next year.”

Civics in Action, which has already been presented to 58 Rotary Clubs and 18 Kiwanis Clubs in New Hampshire, is a statewide effort by the NHBA Law Related Education program to promote educated citizenship and start a dialogue about the Constitution. On Constitution Day, Sept. 17, the program will kick off in middle and high schools, providing students with the same opportunity to find out whether they could pass the test those seeking US citizenship must take.

The LRE program provides schools with a self-study test to help students prepare for a presentation by a volunteer lawyer.

The LRE program also plans to continue presenting “When Love Hurts,” a project of 2013-14 Bar President Jaye Rancourt’s that teaches students about the civil and criminal laws related to relationship violence and where they can go for help.

The LRE page on the bar association’s website offers numerous resources and tools for classroom teachers interested in teaching students about civics, the justice system and the Constitution.

For more information about getting involved in Civics in Action or When Love Hurts, contact LRE Coordinator Robin E. Knippers.

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