One Marshfield High School student earned first place at the Constitution Project state competition Wednesday, Nov. 20, at the University of Mizzou Law School in Columbia.
Abby Swanigan took the award in the journalism team for the Springfield and St. Louis regions.
She attended the competition with Holly Smith, another MHS student who was involved in the trial advocacy team.
"Once we got there, we had 30 to 45 minutes for prep work," said Swanigan. "Holly was on the law side of things, so she did her part while I did my part. She talked to the All-Star teams, which are just a bunch of people from different teams. I was on my own, so I didn’t have anybody to work with during it."
As part of the Constitution Project, students are given a mock crime scene to investigate, report about and eventually try in court. According to Swanigan, the mock crime scene had already happened on Monday, Nov. 11.
"The charge was murder in the first degree by bombing," said Swanigan. "They put on the crime scene the Monday before the trial. Nobody went to that except the crime scene investigation (CSI) team. During the trial, I sat through 45 minutes of it and then I got up after 45 minutes. Then the next 45 minutes, I had to make a video about what was happening at the crime scene and in the trial — who did what, who was being charged with what."
Since they didn't get a verdict, Swanigan said they could make their own verdict. For the broadcast journalism portion, she had to create a script and produce it. The final piece was shown before the judges at the end.
"Mark Gordon, president/CEO of the Missouri Broadcasters Association, was the one who judged it," said Swanigan. "After that, we had some lunch and got our scoring back."
Swanigan said there were four other girls on the All-Star team and they came from different schools, but they didn’t compete on the same team as Swanigan.
"I had Micah Broyles help me with my footage since he's my camera man," said Swanigan. “He couldn't really give any input since he wasn’t part of the team with me, so it was just myself."
Swanigan received a scholarship and a cash prize for winning first place in the competition. When asked what she thought about Swanigan’s achievement, Kim Plemmons, coordinator of the MHS Constitution Project team, said, “I was excited and extremely happy for her. I, myself, do not know anything regarding journalism or broadcasting, so Abby received guidance from the professionals, Paul Adler from KY3. She has a strong passion for the field, which, I believe, shone through her performance.”
This is Marshfield High School’s third year participating in the competition, according to Plemmons, who added each year, they send students to the final.
"This speaks loudly to the type of talent our students have in Marshfield. I look forward to going at it again next year," she said.
Swanigan is an intern for The Marshfield Mail. In today's edition, she helped with the "For the Record" section and selected highlights for our "Looking Back" feature on page 5B.