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‘Survival of our democracy:’ Civics Learning Project holds ‘Law Day’ at COCC to teach how government, law work

(Update: adding video, comments by Civics Learning Project, panelist, student)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Civics Learning Project hosted a "Law Day" event Tuesday at Central Oregon Community College, one of four being held on campuses across the state to promote youth learning and development of legal, social and political issues concerning and of interest to high school students.

In Central Oregon, this is only the second year the event has taken place. Students will sat in on learning sessions and heard from a panel of professionals in government and law.

"I wanted to come because I wanted to learn about government and about how it works," high school student Daniel Miran said.

Miran says the most beneficial part about the conference is learning from professionals on the panel like Jack Landau.

Landau served on the Oregon Supreme Court and Oregon Court of Appeals for 25 years and now teaches at Lewis and Clark Law School, Willamette University College of Law and the University of Oregon Law School.

Landau said, "(Thomas) Jefferson said many years ago that the key to democracy is an informed electorate. People have to understand how their government works, what the rules are. what is the role of the law in our society?"

"I think there's no age young enough or too young," he said. "We're talking about students today being the voters tomorrow. It's the survival of our democracy."

The main theme of the conference is preserving democracy. The purpose is to educate student on how government works, promote civic engagement, and show them career opportunities.

Miran said, "It makes me definitely want to learn about more government. I want to try and get a position in the government, like helping people."

The event included 16 learning sessions. Topics covered include freedom of speech, voting rights, the importance of media, plus law and order.

Amy Sabbadini,  regional director for Civics Learning Project, said, "Younger Americans tend to think that the adults aren't doing a very good job of making things function, and they would be right in a lot of ways. But, there are still very functional things happening that aren't as visible, so we wanted to make those parts visible."

Sabbadini says one goal is to teach students how to solve problems and bring change as a community. 

She said an important aspect of preserving democracy and being civically engaged is knowing "that your public servants and your elected officials are accessible to you."

The University of Oregon also hosted a conference Tuesday as part of Law Day. Earlier in the month, the Portland area had an event. The last of the four conferences will be held for high school students from southern Oregon on Thursday at the University of Oregon.

From the news release:

The best way to preserve democracy is to teach democracy.

Civics Learning Project’s “Law Days” Host 32 Schools Civics Learning Project’s annual Law Day Conferences for Students will welcome over 300 students from across Oregon this May.

“Law Day,“ hosted annually on college campuses in four regions of Oregon, is a series of events and presentations developed for high school students focusing on legal, social, and political issues concerning and of interest to youth. Presentations and workshops are provided by experts, scholars, and activists from Oregon and beyond, designed to provide a cohesive and engaging experience for students.

The Northwest/Metro Area Law Day, held on Friday, May 10th, welcomed speakers like Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court Meagan Flynn and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.

The remaining three Law Day Conferences are coming up this month in the Southern Willamette Valley, Central, and Southern regions of Oregon.

The Southern Willamette Valley Law Day will be held at the University of Oregon Law School on Tuesday, May 21st.

The Central Region Law Day will also take place on Tuesday, May 21st, at Central Oregon Community College.

Lastly, Southern Oregon Region Law Day will be held at the University of Oregon Law School on Thursday, May 23rd. Law Day is entirely free for Oregon high school students and educators. Civics Learning Project is committed to making holistic, engaging lessons in civics accessible to students of all high school grades levels and varying socioeconomic backgrounds.

Article Topic Follows: Education

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Matthew Draxton

Matthew Draxton is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Matthew here.


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