Wilton forum focuses on US Constitution

WILTON – The most important words in the United States Constitution are the first three: “We the People.”

“We, the people, need to know the Constitution,” John Greabe said on Saturday. “The lack of civic knowledge (in the general public) is appalling.”

Greabe is a professor of constitutional law at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. He will be one of the presenters at a forum and discussion of the U.S. Constitution to be held at High Mowing School from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18.

The other presenter will be David Alcox, Advanced Placement teacher at Milford High School and leader of the school’s We The People team. Many of those students will also attend.

Program organizer Stasia Millett said they hoped to keep the program “nonpolitical,” but with the current atmosphere in Washington, she didn’t know if that was possible.

“We want to be responsive to what the audience wants,” Greabe said. “This is an opportunity to talk about civic involvement and the importance of civic education. I will try to stress that.”

The state Department of Education recently reinstated a high school civics course requirement, he said.

“The Constitution is a charter the people need to know and have an understanding of,” Greabe said. “At least how the power (of government) is distributed. It is a civic commitment to constitutional ideals. It’s all about liberty.”

The three branches of government – executive, legislative and judicial – when working as designed, check and balance each other, he said.

“The founders had a very pessimistic view of human nature,” Greabe said. “They designed (the Constitution) to keep it in balance.”

In 2006, Alcox was named National Civic Teacher of the Year by the New Hampshire Council for Social Studies, and in 2013, he was named Citizen of the Year by the Milford Historical Society. He had led the Milford High We The People team to 14 state championships in 18 years.

The program will include an overview of the times in which the Constitution was written, why the Founding Fathers felt the need for its design, historical sketches of some interesting and lesser known signers, an overview of the document, and an interpretation of the seven articles and 27 amendments. A question-and-answer period will follow the presentation.

The forum is sponsored by the Wilton Community Center. It is free and open to the public. A pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution will be given to everyone who attends.

For more information, check the website of the New Hampshire Institute for Civics Education at constitutionally

speakingnh.org/index.php; write to Wilton Community Center, P.O. Box 148, Wilton, NH 03086; or email sbmillett@tds.net. Contributions are welcome and are tax-deductible.