Craig, Walden students attend Liberty Day in Denver
March 16, 2014
Liberty Day participants
The following are fifth-grade students and adults from Northwest Colorado who attended Liberty Day on Friday in Denver.
East Elementary School
Linda Davis, teacher
Giovany Tarango, student
Lana Newkirk, student
Ridgeview Elementary School
Blake Duncan, student
Sebastian Hadley, student
Kara Holden, teacher
Tyler Loyd, teacher
Sandrock Elementary School
Tayla Siminoe, student
Gregory Spears, student
Amy Tague, teacher
Coltyn Terry, student
Sunset Elementary School
Carmelita Bays, student
Emaleigh Papierski, student
Aubrey Shubert, student
North Park Elementary School, Walden
Merrit Crum, student
Heather Westfahl, parent
Samantha Westfahl, student
Craig — The United States Constitution, which first came into being about 227 years ago, is a document that impacts all Americans, yet if you ask a passer-by on the street about the freedoms guaranteed by any of the 10 amendments that make up the Bill of Rights or which qualifications are required to run for the U.S. Senate, all you may get is a blank stare.
Even so, a group of kids who recently had one of the best field trips of their lives could tell you these details and a lot more.
The Colorado State Capitol saw visitors from Northwest Colorado on Friday morning during the festivities for Liberty Day, an educational experience allowing students to see the activities of government entities and even meet the people who are part of the process.
A total of 12 fifth-grade students — 10 from Craig elementary schools and two from Walden's North Park Elementary School — were able to attend the program, part of the Liberty Day Institute's celebration of the birthday of Constitution author James Madison, who was born March 16, 1751.
The students joined other students from the Denver area in the Capitol building, briefly meeting state and national legislators who were in attendance.
As part of the activity, which encouraged students to quiz adults about the details of the Constitution, Sandrock Elementary School student Coltyn Terry posed a question to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper about the five tenets of the First Amendment during a press conference.
Coltyn said the governor listed off "freedom of speech" before having to move on with other things.
"He said, 'I'll get back to you later,'" Coltyn said.
East Elementary student Giovany Tarango said they continued quizzing people of all sorts, including their tour guides, who noted being impressed with the kids' knowledge.
"We stumped most of them," he said.
In turn, Giovany said he was awed by the architecture of the Capitol and the Denver Justice Center, which they also got to see.
"They were beautiful buildings, really nice pieces of art," he said.
Giovany said he'll be compiling a PowerPoint presentation of his experiences for his classmates and teacher Marco Cuevas.
"It was neat to see their enthusiasm, and they were so well-behaved and so polite while they were there," Sandrock teacher Amy Tague said. "There was a lot of learning and a lot of note-taking. They were asking me questions even I didn't know."
Ridgeview Elementary teacher Tyler Loyd said students who attended Liberty Day were selected based on submitted essays, adding it was a shame funds were not available so everyone at the grade level could make the trip. The roster included two students each from East and Ridgeview and three each from Sandrock and Sunset.
Debbie McLain and the Augusta Wallihan Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution helped make the available funding possible for the inaugural year for Northwest Colorado students to attend the program.
"They were just tickled to have us," she said. "It was really nice to see the response and how impressed they were with our kids."
McLain said she hopes to aid in the effort to allow more students to go to Denver next year and pointed to the work done by teachers in the classroom as examples of solid education in the area.
"Obviously, something is working, and we really need to be proud of our kids," she said. "I know I'm really proud of them."
Coltyn said he was glad to be part of the once-in-a-lifetime encounter.
"It was a really cool experience," he said.