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NMJC Celebrates Constitution Day

9/19/2009 12:32:40 a.m. - Hobbs, NM. On Thursday afternoon, September 17, a group of approximately 40 New Mexico Junior College students, faculty, staff, and area residents celebrated national Constitution Day through music, entertainment, and education in the Ben Alexander Student Learning Center.

According to Dr. Patty Emmerich, History/Government professor at NMJC and sponsor for the event, the annual celebration recognizes the significance of the Constitution and is observed annually on September 17, the day it was signed by the U.S. Constitutional Convention in 1787.  Established by Congress in 2004, Constitution Day provides an opportunity to educate new generations of Americans as well as students on ways that the U.S. Constitution has changed history and provides inspiration for the entire world.  

Dr. John Gratton, NMJC Vice President for Instruction, served as emcee for the event. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, Anne Tsonis, Instructor of Music at NMJC, and the Ultra-Tsonics Singers presented a moving patriotic medley of songs, with narration by NMJC freshman Mark Jiminez of Hobbs. Other Hobbs singers included Brandi Campbell, Heather Bunnell, Chris Cauthen, Hannah Hicks, Ross Strickland, Kandice Smith, and Jeff Richardson.  Lovington singers were Greg Rowell, John and Emily McCullough, and Randy Duncan.  Anna Neufeld from Seminole rounded out the group, with Anne Tsonis accompanying on piano. The group received a heartfelt standing ovation for their powerful renditions of traditional American songs, ending with Lee Greenwood’s contemporary classic “Proud to be an American.”

Senator Carroll Leavell (R-NM) then gave a brief presentation on both the U.S. and New Mexico Constitutions, commenting that most New Mexicans are more familiar with the U.S.’s than the state’s constitution. Calling the U.S. Constitution his “guiding light,” Senator Leavell stated that, while small enough in book form to carry in one’s pocket, “the U.S. Constitution is the second most important document written in the history of mankind, second only to the Holy Bible.”

He then proceeded to outline the key elements of the New Mexico Constitution, adopted in 1911, beginning with the Preamble:We, the people of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty, in order to secure the advantages of a state government, do ordain and establish this Constitution.

Senator Leavell briefly summarized all 23 sections of the New Mexico Bill of Rights, particularly emphasizing Sec. 2, stating that if he and his fellow legislators ever forget from where their power is derived, they should be called on it immediately. Sec. 2 states: All political power is vested in and derived from the people, all government of right originates with the people, is founded upon their will and is instituted solely for their good.

Dr. Emmerich, who also teaches NMJC’s American Government Interactive Television (ITV) classes throughout Lea County, announced the area high school winners who participated in the annual Constitution essay contest.  The following students were awarded $25 gift certificates from the NMJC Bookstore: Eunice High School: Bailey Gage; Jal High School: Taylah Owen; Lovington High School: Mackenzie Dixon; NMJC campus: Adam Marinovich: and Tatum High School: Hunter Ray.

Senator Leavell may be contacted at or by calling his office at the State Capitol at 505.986.4278 or his local office at 575.393.2550.

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