Craig fifth-graders take on Colorado State Capitol for Liberty Day |

Craig fifth-graders take on Colorado State Capitol for Liberty Day

Lauren Blair
Craig fifth-graders in this year's Liberty Bell Institute pose for a photo from the dome of the Colorado State Capitol

— From the gleam of the golden dome to the floor of the House of Representatives, nine Craig fifth-graders’ visit to the Colorado State Capitol put them face to face with their local representatives as part of the Liberty Day Institute this month.

About 100 Colorado fifth-graders flooded the Capitol building March 16 to test not only their own knowledge but that of their elected officials on the U.S. Constitution. Craig’s students were the only students from the Western Slope.

“Being able to talk to and challenge adults is something kids don’t usually get to do,” said Autumn Tatman, Liberty Day chaperone and fifth-grade teacher at Sunset Elementary School. “They don’t get chance to show how smart they are to adults most of time.”

Students quizzed their state representatives and one Sunset fifth-grader, Megan Neton, came up with a question that truly stumped them all.

“’How many words are in the Constitution?’” Neton asked. “That was a really tough question. No one knew how to answer that.”

The answer, according to Neton? 1,453.

Rep. Bob Rankin reserved seats for the students on the House floor, where Neton and Sandrock Elementary School fifth-grader Lauralie Latham opened the morning legislative session with the Pledge of Allegiance. East Elementary student Ruby Short read the Preamble to the Constitution and Ridgeview Elementary student Joslyn Bacon read the First Amendment.

The students also had the opportunity to meet and ask questions of their local representatives, including Rankin and Sen. Randy Baumgardner.

“We asked a lot of questions like, ‘Are we keeping coal?’ ‘Are we going to keep rivers flowing?’ ‘Are we going to use wind power now instead of coal?’” Short said, noting her father works at Twentymile Mine.

Organized locally by the Augusta Wallihan Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution and funded by several Craig nonprofits and businesses, 31 fifth-graders submitted essays and only 10 were selected to attend.

“I wanted to go on that trip because it was a huge opportunity and I thought it would make me more knowledgeable on our Constitution and how everything works,” Bacon said, adding that, “Yes, it did.”

The students who attended were selected from all four elementary schools, including Ruby Short, Joslyn Bacon, Keira Linton, Brook Ann Wheeler, Aaron Colby, Lauralie Latham, Megan Neton, Emma Fritza, Grady Wooden and Jesus Valencia, who was sick and not able to attend.

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1795 or or follow her on Twitter @LaurenBNews.

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