The Constitution Project gives students a mock crime scene to investigate, report about and eventually try in a mock trial, all under the mentorship of local professionals in the fields of crime scene investigation, journalism and trial advocacy. Started five years ago at Houston (Missouri) High School by Texas County Associate Circuit Judge Doug Gaston, the competition expanded last year to more than 250 students from 16 schools in four regions participating in The Constitution Project statewide.

“The Constitution Project gives high school students exciting, hands-on experience in possible future careers that are integral to our constitution and our nation’s system of justice,” Gaston said. “It is a fun and meaningful experience not only for the students but also for the professionals who help guide the teams from the local level right up through the state finals.”

Competitors are chosen based on merit and their interest in the three disciplines. To be chosen, each community must pledge commitments from the school, local judges, law enforcement, media and attorneys.

“I continue to be amazed by the talent and the effort the students in our competition display,” said Supreme Court Judge Patricia Breckenridge. “Participants get to not only learn about but also experience the constitution by immersing themselves into these roles. By putting these important constitutional lessons into action and seeing the impact the constitution has on our daily lives, these students are gaining invaluable experience from The Constitution Project.”

Winners are named at the team and individual level for each discipline, and the individual award winners receive $1,000 scholarships from sponsoring organizations. Statewide cosponsors of the project include the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Missouri Sheriff’s Association, Missouri Police Chiefs Association, Missouri Press Association, Missouri Broadcasters Association and The Missouri Bar.