The Indiana High School Press Association is celebrating the First Amendment again at your house—the Indiana Statehouse.
When the First Amendment Symposium debuted last year, the planners knew it had the potential to be a special event; but it was difficult to determine whether many people would attend something new and untested. It wasn’t hard to imagine 300 empty chairs and boxes of leftover programs and refreshments.
However, at 4:00 p.m. on March 6, 2007, approximately 300 high school students occupied most of the 300 chairs. Silence reflected the respect they felt in a special place for a special event as they watched Governor Mitch Daniels walk through the rotunda toward the North Atrium to share his thoughts with them about the importance of the First Amendment.
Leading with the governor set the bar high for the rest of the 2 ½ hour program, but everyone rose to the occasion to present awards, speeches, and tributes, that informed, entertained and inspired. At the end of the program, several people of varying ages described the experience with the same word—“Awesome.”
Consequently, there will be the First Amendment Symposium: the sequel. This year’s program has evolved with the same enthusiasm as last year’s event but with more confidence that people will attend. Popular segments including student speeches, essay contest presentations, and a panel of First Amendment/Scholastic Journalism professionals will return to the line-up; and two new elements will be added: First Amendment Project Awards and the announcement of Indiana’s Student Journalist of the Year.
This year’s First Amendment Symposium is March 4 from 4-7 p.m.; and once again it’s at your house, the Statehouse, an Indiana symbol of your responsibility to understand and protect your First Amendment.