DECEMBER 14, 2017 11:54 AM
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SOUTHLAKE – Actress and “Fort Worth girl” Janine Turner loves the U.S. Constitution so much that she started a nonprofit foundation to educate Americans about the rights and freedoms that document guarantees.
On a cold December day in front of Southlake Town Hall, Turner posed for photos and presented awards on behalf of her foundation, Constituting America, to local students and a teacher.
“It’s an amazing document that some people want to throw out, but if there’s something you don’t like about the government, you can actually amend the Constitution,” Turner said. “People have forgotten they have the power to make that kind of change.”
Turner, an Emmy-nominated actress best-known for the ’90s hit “Northern Exposure,” still acts but devotes much of her time to educating others about the Constitution and raising her daughter, Juliette Turner, who is the executive director of the foundation.
Local winners earn cash and prizes
Turner gave out several “We the Future” awards to local students.
Gabriella Tommasi and Joshua Langdorf, both sixth-graders at Eubanks Intermediate School in Southlake, received $1,000 each for their winning entries in the middle school song contest.
Tommasi played her song, “The Constitution is the Right Solution,” for the crowd gathered for the awards ceremony. She wrote the song because she finds the Constitution “super inspiring.”
“It’s a very special document because it shows the most important parts of our government, with the checks and balances,” Tommasi said.
Joshua Landgraf wrote a song, “Constitutional,” and asked his twin sister, Taylor, and friends to participate in a music video. The humorous end result won Joshua and friends a $1,000 prize.
Landgraf said he wanted to give the money to a friend and classmate who is battling cancer.
As best song winners, Tommasi and Landgraf receive a trip to Austin to visit the State Capitol. They also will be mentored by rapper and Christian music artist Moses Uvere, and Constituting America will professionally record their songs and promote them.
A mother and son from Colleyville won the other awards presented at the ceremony.
Monique Gorman, an art teacher at Grapevine Faith Christian School, won a $1,000 award for best teacher. Turner said the foundation received more entries from Gorman’s students than for any other teacher.
In the elementary artwork category, Gorman’s son, McConnell Gorman, won $100 and the honor of having his red, white and blue eagle featured on Constituting America’s Christmas card.
Understanding the Constitution
Turner knows the importance of education to inspire young people about U.S. history and government. She credits Mr. Ingram, her fifth-grade teacher at Eagle Mountain Elementary School, with fueling her interest. He had the class rehearse the musical “1776,” and had Turner play Martha Jefferson.
After “Northern Exposure” ended, Turner decided to move back to Texas to raise Juliette, now 20. Both mother and daughter have written books on U.S. history: Turner with “Holding Her Head High” about heroic single mothers in history, and Juliette with the children’s books “Our Constitution Rocks” and “Our Presidents Rock.”
Turner speaks often at schools and events promoting a better understanding of the nation’s founding document.
“It’s important for everyone to understand that the Constitution is nonpartisan, that it’s for all Americans and how the checks and balances protect the freedoms that we love,” she said.
Juliette Turner said she wants to help her generation learn to value the Constitution.
“We’re the future voters of America and the future face of America,” she said. “It’s important that we value our rights and know what they are so we can understand when someone is trying to take them away from us.”
For more information on Constituting America, go to constitutingamerica.org.