LOCK HAVEN, Pa. - On Thursday and Friday, October 21 and 22, Lock Haven University will welcome area students to its annual High School Model Constitutional Convention (ConCon). Lock Haven University is a member of the Pennsylvania State
System of Higher Education (PASSHE), the largest provider of higher education in
the commonwealth. Its 14 universities offer more than 250 degree and certificate
programs in more than 120 areas of study. Nearly 405,000 system alumni live and
work in Pennsylvania.
ConCon was begun in 1987 to mark the bicentennial of the drafting of the United States Constitution. Dr. Craig Willis, then the president of Lock Haven University, was a member of the Clinton County Constitution Bicentennial Commission in 1987 and believed that the celebration that year should contain a significant educational component. The first ConCon was such a success that the program was made a regular annual event.
The program was initially created by Dr. Donald Day and Dr. Lawrence Farley of the Department of History, Political Science, Economics and Geography. Dr. Farley, a professor of political science and a Fulbright Scholar, directed the program from its inception until it was wound up in 2006. The Lock Haven University Council for Social Studies Club is now reviving the event.
Students and teachers will be coming from four area high schools to participate in the two-day event. Delegations will be arriving from Central Mountain High School, led by teacher Mark Condo; Jersey Shore High School, led by teacher Tim Greene; Sugar Valley Charter School, led by teacher Scott Wertz; and Williamsport High School, led by teacher Marilouise Mazzante.
ConCon is not a historical reenactment of the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. It is a simulation, set in the present day, in which delegates debate current constitutional issues.
The participating high school students have already received their state or territory assignments. Each state delegation will consist of three delegates and one alternate. Students have been encouraged to research and write resolutions prior to the ConCon.
On the first day of ConCon, each delegation will break up and send a representative to each of the three concurrent committee sessions. Each committee will examine a different part of the U.S. Constitution and may adopt resolutions, which will then be placed on the convention plenary agenda for the next day. The convention plenary, with all delegates present, will meet during the entire second day.
Participating high school students will gain practical, hands-on experience in public speaking and debate, analyzing and understanding complex issues, critical thinking, writing, parliamentary strategy and tactics, team work, and diplomacy.
At the same time, Lock Haven University students who have been helping to organize the event and will serve as ConCon facilitators are gaining practical experience in organization, teamwork, communication, leadership and management.
At the end of ConCon, certificates will be presented for superior delegates and superior delegations. Four trophies will be awarded: one for best delegate, one for the best delegation, one for best parliamentarian, and one for the best drafted resolution.