Across the Eddins Elementary cafeteria, hands shot into the air. Some students sat patiently, waiting to be called upon; others waved eagerly for attention. Here and there a few students succumbed to enthusiasm, and jumped to their feet to catch the attention of the speaker.
It’s not easy to get kids excited about a document more than 200 years old, but Janine Turner’s passion for the Constitution is contagious. On Wednesday, February 8, she visited Eddins Elementary and McKinney Boyd High School to speak to social studies and history classes about the document that established the basic liberties that we all enjoy — and to encourage this young generation of Americans to protect and cherish those liberties.
Known for her roles on CBS’s “Northern Exposure” and NBC’s “Friday Night Lights,” Turner has also starred in several feature films including “Cliffhanger” alongside Sylvester Stallone. Perhaps less well-known is that she is the Founder and Co-Chair of an organization called Constituting America. According to their website, part of Constituting America’s mission is to “utilize the culture and multi-media outreach such as music, film, internet, and social media to reach, educate and inform America’s adults and students about the importance of the U.S. Constitution and the foundation it sets forth regarding our freedoms and rights.”
“We’re multi-tiered,” Turner said, “but the main focus is with children because we believe at Constituting America — and I believe — that they’re the future. They’re the torchbearers of the country.”
During a presentation that included music and video segments, Turner spoke about what she considers to be three of the most amazing moments in our country’s history: the writing of the Declaration of Independence, the War of Independence and the framing of the Constitution. She encouraged her audience to never take them for granted.
Turner is concerned that in the midst of our fast-paced culture, we are losing sight of the importance of those foundational moments. “We can’t sustain liberty if our kids don’t know about this, in a non-partisan way,” she said. “There is nothing partisan about the United States Constitution. It’s not left; it’s not right.”
Eddins Elementary Principal Sharon Havard was pleased with the opportunity to have Turner visit their campus, “She had so much passion about the importance of knowing the Constitution and the founding principles of our country. It was great getting to share in her enthusiasm as she spoke about the foundation of our nation.”
Photos: Top left, Janine Turner speaks to history classes at McKinney Boyd High School; above right, Students at Eddins Elementary answer questions about the U.S. Constitution during a presentation by Janine Turner on Wednesday, February 8.