Founders Classical Academy Hosts Third Annual Bill of Rights Colloquium
Each December Founders Classical Academy of Lewisville celebrates Bill of Rights Day by inviting members of the school and local community to consider their rights and responsibilities as citizens. This year the conversation at the school’s colloquium focused on the role character plays in safeguarding liberty.
The community heard from David Bobb, the president of the Bill of Rights Institute; Lawrence W. Reed, the president of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE); and Kate Lewis, a junior at Founders Classical Academy.
Opening the conversation, Michael Terry, superintendent of ResponsiveEd’s Founders Classical Academies, reminded the audience that by gathering they were exercising their first amendment right to assemble. Connecting the importance of discussing character to the Founder Classical Academy’s values, headmaster Jason Caros reminded students that knowledge, virtue and liberty, the school’s motto, requires sustained labor and that events like the colloquium are part of that labor.
Throughout the semester, 11th graders participated in an essay contest on the subject. Junior Kate Lewis won, earning her the opportunity to speak about how virtue is the only safeguard against tyranny. She argued that freedom will be lost if the nation fails take to character and liberty seriously.
“The Bill of Rights according to our founding fathers was one such device that may help protect these principles, but they understood that there is no perfect safeguard [other than] a citizenry dedicated to fundamental principles of virtue,” she said.
Touching on the issues debated when the Bill of Rights was first proposed, Dr. Bobb addressed James Madison’s concern that listing citizen’s rights might lead them to think that government is the granter of the rights and that citizens’ rights are limited to those only. He realized, though that the states would not ratify the Constitution without a Bill of Rights. He eventually agreed to the Bill of Rights because he knew the country needed unity and because he believed it is really the character of the citizens that gives validity to documented rights and not the document itself.
Dr. Bobb quoted Madison, saying, “‘Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks, no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people is a chimerical idea.’”
Mr. Reed suggested sharing stories of heroic people of character is one of the the best ways to convey virtue.
Focusing on heroes, Mr. Reed argued that rather than just performing a momentary heroic act, true heroes are people of character who consistently do good. Heroes should possess the same character traits that a society needs in order to retain liberty.
He related the stories of Mercy Otis Warren, Nicholas Winton and others who exemplified heroic virtues such as honesty, humility, courage and responsibility. Mr. Reed encouraged Founders students to imitate these people of character.
“There is no investment you could make that will be more fruitful for you, that will produce a better, clearer conscience at the end of your life than an investment in character. It is one that you will never regret,” Mr. Reed concluded.
This was Founders Classical Academy of Lewisville’s third Bill of Rights Colloquium. During the school day, Dr. Bobb and Mr. Reed spoke with students, challenging them to consider how technology may have changed the role of government from the time of the Founders and what role the Bill of Rights plays in the current day.