Philadelphia Students And Officials Celebrated Classroom Civics Program

In May, more than 200 students from 10 Philadelphia public schools joined judges, leaders of the Philadelphia legal community and officials of the National Constitution Center for a lively, citizenship-themed panel discussion celebrating the award-winning Advancing Civics Education (ACE) program.

Launched in 2008 by the 13,000-member Philadelphia Bar Association, ACE is a program in partnership with Philadelphia public schools and the National Constitution Center that brings teams of volunteer lawyers and judges into 5th grade and high school classrooms to provide supplemental civics education, including the fundamental principles of citizenship, democracy and dispute resolution.

More than 150 volunteer attorneys and judges have already participated in ACE, with 14 high schools and two elementary schools being touched by the program. In December, Philadelphia Bar Association chancellor John E. Savoth announced the expansion of the program into additional elementary schools, as well as the creation of an ACE website that will be formally announced at today's event.

At the event, students and volunteer teams celebrated their hard work with a day of activities and programs based on the theme “Our Rights and Responsibilities as Citizens.”

Following the welcome, a panel discussion was held with civic leaders based on students’ responses to the question, “What are the top five issues or things that affect your rights and responsibilities as a citizen?”

Participating panelists included Kenyatta Johnson, Philadelphia City Councilman, and Marsha Levick, deputy director and chief counsel of the Juvenile Law Center. The discussion was moderated by Philadelphia attorney Kenneth Holdsman. Kathleen D. Wilkinson, chancellor-elect of the Philadelphia Bar Association, presented certificates to the teachers that were distributed to all students who participated in the ACE program.