Thanks to a successful partnership with The Missouri Bar Citizenship Education Program, 30 Lee’s Summit North High School student leaders participated in comprehensive sessions focused on current constitutional law issues during a Sept. 11 event.
Through the LSN partnership with The Missouri Bar program, the Bar provides extensive support for classroom learning about the law, the legal system and the courts. The school receives lesson plans, supplementary reading materials and teacher workshops.
Student leaders from LSNHS were invited to attend the Sept. 11 annual meeting of The Missouri Bar at the Sheraton Crown Center in downtown Kansas City. The students were nominated by teachers throughout the school on the basis of their academics, leadership qualities and interest in the law and government.
Students attending were seniors Collin Bates, Emily Bridges, Brennen Dooley, Paige Edson, Kristofer Frostestad, Bryce Gibson, Ben Gruenbaum, Zachary Hitchcock, Jasmine Jefferies, Victoria Kelley, Nolan Lamb, Austin Le, Caitlin McCord, Taylor Morrison, Kody Negri, Archit Pramanik, Erica Serrone, Greg Sheets, Gabrielle Von Collins, Conor Wehrwein, Simone Wells, Hannah White and Alexandra Worth; juniors Lindsay Conchola, Ian De Boer, Vance Kelley and Jonghae Lee; and sophomores Maleah Ahuja, Austin Alvidrez and Miriam Merritt.
These student leaders represent various groups and organizations throughout the school, including Air Force Junior ROTC, Debate Team, International Baccalaureate, varsity football, Student Senate, Youth-in-Government, the International Thespian Society, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, LSN Band and Orchestra, Bronco Smart and other high school clubs and activities. Staff members attending were Tavish Whiting, American government teacher; Brian Glenski, American government teacher, Paula Keltner, Lee’s Summit R-7 social studies coordinator; and Dr. Jeff Meisenheimer, LSNHS principal.
Students were given an opportunity to attend two plenary sessions hosted by The Missouri Bar as a part of their required continuing education program for attorneys throughout the state. Each 90-minute session covered major constitutional issues facing citizens and states today. Attorneys generally pay a fee to attend each of these sessions, but The Missouri Bar waived all fees for students and teachers. Furthermore, The Missouri Bar fully funded the transportation, substitute teachers and other fees related to the event.
The first plenary session concerned the issue of same-sex marriage and the conflicting landscape currently present in the legal system. Since the landmark Supreme Court decision Windsor v. United States (2013), there have been a wide range of legal changes and questions throughout the country. A panel of law professors and attorneys discussed a variety of legal issues impacted by the Windsor case including retirement, spousal benefits, dependent care, federal and state tax laws, child benefits, funeral arrangements, probate, same-sex divorces and the Affordable Care Act. The repercussions of the Windsor decision by the Supreme Court, along with the various conflicting state and federal laws, has made the same-sex legal situation a major constitutional issue today, sparking litigation throughout Missouri and the nation. The session was moderated by the Honorable Michael A. Wolff, dean of the Saint Louis University School of Law and former chief justice of the Missouri Supreme Court.
The second plenary session concerned the constitutional issue of privacy. The panel included a member of the United States Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a distinguished author and law professor from Washington University of St. Louis and two attorneys who specialize in data security and electronic privacy issues in the private sector. Issues discussed concerned areas of intellectual privacy, protection of records, concerns with the Internet, data mining, cloud issues, technological advances and surveillance by state and federal government authorities. The panel was moderated by Ellen Y. Suni, dean of the School of Law of the University of Missouri at Kansas City.
Lee’s Summit North students were then invited on a tour of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, by the Honorable Judge Alok Ahuja. Students were given a history of the building, an explanation of the purpose and function of the Court of Appeals and an overview of the Missouri Plan process of electing Missouri judges.
Afterwards, students were given a rare opportunity to have a private question-and-answer with two judges from the Missouri Supreme Court. The Honorable Laura Denvir Stith and the Honorable Paul Wilson answered questions about themselves, their duties and their views on various issues. Students asked questions about each judge’s motivation for going into law, the process of hearing cases, the relationship between the state and federal court systems, and their views on the importance of the high court’s role in society.
Four Lee’s Summit North student leaders were selected by The Missouri Bar as Outstanding Student Leaders. Seniors Kristofer Frostestad, Zachary Hitchcock, Jasmine Jefferies and Victoria Kelley were all invited to a special opening luncheon with the chief justice of the Missouri Supreme Court, the Honorable Mary R. Russell. The luncheon included the Address of the Chief Justice to The Missouri Bar, presentations of awards to outstanding jurists throughout the state and the “passing of the gavel” from the outgoing president of the organization to the new president, sworn in by the Honorable Richard B. Teitelman of the Supreme Court.
The Lee’s Summit North student leaders had an enriching educational experience at the event hosted by The Missouri Bar. Several students asked questions of the panelists during the plenary sessions alongside attorneys and legal scholars. Ms. Suni, the dean of the School of Law at UMKC, commented that the LSNHS students asked questions “more relevant” than many of the attorneys present in the session. In all, the experience of this meeting and the exposure to constitutional scholars and experts, gave the Lee’s Summit North student leaders an experience of a lifetime, adding enriching component to their education, said LSN staff members.