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Kids Make a Law!

Fourth-graders at Wedgwood Elementary School in Seattle, Washington, recently helped make a law in their state. The new law made the Olympic marmot, a rare animal, into an official state symbol.

Each of America's 50 states has symbols like birds, flowers, and songs. The Olympic marmot was named Washington's official endemic animal. An endemic animal is one that lives in only one area. The Olympic marmot is named after Olympic National Park in Washington, the only place in the world where these rare marmots can be found.

As a class project, students had to argue to lawmakers why the marmots should become a state symbol. They first e-mailed their thoughts to lawmakers. Later, they spoke before lawmakers in the state capital of Olympia. Finally, they watched Governor Christine Gregoire when she signed the bill making their furry friends a state symbol.

Law of the Land

In each state, a law must be passed to approve an official symbol. To get their law passed, Wedgwood students had help from the Constitution. This important piece of writing sets rules for passing U.S. laws. States follow similar rules. Thursday is Constitution Day, a day to celebrate the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787.

The Constitution spells out how the U.S. government works. It says that Congress makes laws for the nation. First, lawmakers in Congress must vote to pass a bill, or plan for a law. Then, if the President signs the bill, it becomes a law for the country.

State laws come about in a similar way. First, state lawmakers vote to pass a bill. If the bill passes, the Governor may sign the bill into law. The Governor is the elected leader of the state.

With help from teachers, Wedgwood students asked State Senator Ken Jacobsen to write a bill to make marmots their new state symbol. "I am proud of these fourth-graders for taking the time to learn about this state mammal and learn about the process of proposing a bill," Jacobsen said.

State Law, State Pride

Many people in the state were excited when Governor Gregoire signed the bill into law. The students who helped make it happen were among the most excited. "The whole school was abuzz," said Kelly Clark, a teacher at Wedgwood Elementary School.

"It's not every day kids make a bill and get this experience," student Caroline Malone told The Seattle Times.

WHAT'S THE WORD?

blog it

Use words from today's story to complete this crossword puzzle about Washington's furry state symbol.

Download it here!

CELEBRATE CONSTITUTION DAY!

Do you know your rights? Learn about them here! Celebrate Constitution Day with games, articles, and activities. Read interviews with Supreme Court Justices, travel through time with Ben Franklin, and check out the full text of the Bill of Rights.

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