BRENTWOOD, Tennessee- The National Constitution Bee, a project of the Star News Education Foundation, named Claudia Henneberry as the executive director in July. Henneberry spoke with The Tennessee Star about her role in The National Constitution Bee, and the hopes she has for change in our current educational landscape.
The National Constitution Bee, a program for students in grades 8 through 12, began in 2017. The program focuses on the Guide to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights for Secondary School Students, a text that discusses the people and events which led to the ratification of the Constitution of the United States. The foundation focuses on 7 areas, including civics, critical thinking, direct instruction, individual and local sovereignty and accountability, economic self-sufficiency, practical life skills and classical curriculum.
“Since I was a history/political science and English teacher, our education institutions have been swallowed up by anti-American, anti-freedom factions and forces,” Henneberry told The Star.
“It began to happen in the 19th century, so, it’s not a new thing. As a retired teacher, I have been involved with organizations whose focus is stopping and changing this landscape,” she added.
Henneberry is hopeful students will continue to gain knowledge of the Constitution and free society through the text she co-authored.
“We need students to understand that this country is headed in the wrong direction and we need to teach them how to keep the republic,” she told The Star.
All students in grades 8-12 are eligible to participate in the National Constitution Bee. Henneberry stated that “a lot” of students attend the annual event, which was first held in 2017.
“The most we’ve had is between 25-30. This will be our fifth year, but our second as a national bee,” Henneberry said.
Students are asked a series of questions that come from the text, which Henneberry describes as “a story behind everything that it took to create the Constitution.” In addition, it covers the background of the people who created the Constitution, and “how they created that brilliant miraculous document.”
Many champions of the National Constitution Bee have gone on to visit Washington, D.C. In 2017, winner Noah Farley met with Federal Court of Appeals Judge Thomas Griffith. In 2018, winner Cooper Moran went to the Capitol, where he witnessed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s first walk through the halls of the Capitol with Vice President Mike Pence on their way to meet the United States senators who would vote on his confirmation.
Jackson Carter, the 2020 Grand Champion of the National Constitution Bee, received the $10,000 educational scholarship from the Star News Education Foundation. Second place winner Gianna Ross won a $5,000 educational scholarship while third place winner Alea VanDeVelde received a $2,500 educational scholarship.
The 2021 National Competition Bee will be held October 23 at the Spring Hill Suites by Marriott in Brentwood, Tennessee.
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Olivia Adams is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow Olivia on Twitter.