By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Eight years ago, Dr. Emily Spencer, Pastor and Principal of Latma Christian Academy, along with twelve other people from Latma, journeyed to Boston, Massachusetts. There, they joined in the celebration as “Old Ironsides,” also known as the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship afloat, was brought into Boston Harbor.
Thrilled to be a part of history in the making, Spencer later contacted the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, the only museum in the country dedicated exclusively to the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights. Shortly thereafter, she and other instructors were sworn in as Mock-Constitutional Signing Officers, and their school, Latma Christian Academy, became a certified Mock-Constitution Signing Center, one of several around the country.
Each year since then, “for eight great years,” says Spencer, the faculty and students of Latma Academy have held their mock signing of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights in downtown Madison.
“Our students learn the Preamble. Even my seven-year-old knows it,” said Spencer. “It becomes real for them.”
At the Madison County Courthouse, they recite the preamble for the gathered audience of townspeople and public officials and proceed to add their signatures to a copy of the Constitution. They also give out copies of the document in booklet form to gathered onlookers. The mock-signing ceremony is one of many ways the Latma faculty strive to bring traditional educational subjects to life for their students.
In addition to experiencing the history of the Constitution, the students learn about the history of Madison and Madison County during their visit to the courthouse.
They also held their fundraiser on the courthouse lawn, raising money for field trips as well as their annual $52 donation to a medical program in Haiti that treats children for worms and other parasites contracted from contaminated food and water. The $52 Latma sends in every year pays for the treatment of 100 Haitian children, and helps the Latma students understand how blessed they are to live in a country with adequate food and clean water.
Latma students also learn the Lord’s Prayer in both English and Swahili, and are currently studying the cultures and histories of the Latin American world.
“We’re a Christian school, so we are always learning the principals of God,” said Spencer. “He is in every place, looking at the good and the evil.”
It is a small school she says, but a very good school, where the students think about what they learn. “And I appreciate that…I’m very proud of the job they do.”