Margaret Alvine is an 18-year-old homeschooled high school Senior. She has been homeschooled all her life, along with her six younger siblings. She currently lives in the Mojave Desert in Southern California.
Her interest in the Constitution grew through her sophomore AP US Government class, which she really enjoyed. She also enjoys reading the speeches of the late Antonin Scalia, former Supreme Court judge, and looks up to him as an example of a life lived in faith and reason. She is excited for this opportunity to help inform others about our wonderful Constitution.
She competes in multiple speech categories in National Christian Forensics and Communication Association (NCFCA), including a persuasive speech on the necessity of historical knowledge to a free people. In addition to her schoolwork and extracurriculars, Margaret teaches Religious Education at her parish, and this year has shifted online due to Covid.
In Margaret’s spare time, she enjoys crafting and other forms of designing, playing flute and recorder, coming up with skits with her sister, reading, and engaging others in conversation.
Click here to read Margaret’s winning high school essay
Our Interview With Margaret
Was this the first time you entered the contest?
Yes, it was.
How did you hear about the contest?
A Scholarships search page.
What inspired your work?
At first, I was thinking about writing about the tenth amendment. However, though I was interested in writing about how important it is to not assume that our rights are limited to the Bill of Rights, my beginning attempts were not that great. About that time, my family was closely following the struggles for religious freedom in San Francisco, just as some time previously we had written a letter to the State legislature regarding the proposed laws which infringed upon the Seal of the Confessional. As we followed the news and watched those speaking against the intrusions on Religious freedoms, I thought, “Why not write about the right to religious freedom?” I’ve always been interested in the evolution of laws regarding religion in this country, and the fact that it was the first right specified in the Bill of Rights, so I decided to go ahead.
What did you learn while creating your entry?
I learned a lot about the evolution of religious laws in the US, and a little about COVID laws.
How do you plan to spread the word this year to your peers about the importance of the U.S Constitution?
One way I will help inform others is through my NCFCA speech on American History. In my persuasive speech, I attempt to persuade people to take an active interest in our nation’s founding principles, and follow them through the ages.
How do your friends respond to history or talking about the Constitution?
Due to the pandemic, I have not had as many opportunities to have long, in person discussions with friends as I would like. However, in the opportunities I have had to talk to friends both new and old, discussing history and the Constitution is always an interesting topic when it comes up. Admittedly, though the opportunities have been rarer, the Constitution has been more likely to come up as we try to make sense of current events and pandemic laws, and determine what is rational or not, and what is Constitutional or not.
What do you love about U.S. History and the forming of our government?
For the founding specifically, I love the historical message about learning from history: the way that the founders refused to follow the idea of facing unprecedented challenges, and instead used ideas and successes and failures from history to form the Constitution and argue for or against it. For all of History, seeing the way events from the past form our present thrills me, and it can be comforting at times to learn how often people thought that the world as they knew it was over, and then it wasn’t.
Which U.S. historical site would you like to visit?
Living on the West Coast, I have had the opportunity to visit many amazing historical sites such as forts established by Lewis and Clark and pieces of the Oregon Trail. I also had the opportunity to see several things such as the actual Declaration of Independence when I was younger than six. Now that I am older, I would be interested in re-visiting sites from the Revolutionary War and the Constitutional Convention. I would also be interested in seeing a homestead of Laura Ingalls, whose books have been a favorite of mine since I was old enough to check out CDs from the library.
Which American historical figure is most influential/inspirational to you?
That’s a hard one, there are a lot of great figures in American History… Abraham Lincoln is one historical figure I have found inspirational. Since I enjoy public speaking, I am amazed by his power as a public speaker, as well as his humility. A style of debate is even named after his method of debating his opponent: Lincoln Douglass debate. Lincoln’s honesty and devotion to doing the right thing also inspire me. I found it really interesting and even influential to my educational decisions that Lincoln felt it necessary to memorize Euclid before he could be an effective lawyer. One last thing I like about Lincoln is a story about his childhood. I’m not sure if it’s a legend or not, but I heard a story somewhere that one day Lincoln was told not to walk on the freshly washed floor with his muddy feet. Nothing daunted, he wiped his feet, grabbed a friend with muddy feet, and held him upside down so that he made muddy prints on the ceiling. Naturally, he cleaned it up after he had his laugh.
Who is your greatest role model?
One of my role models is the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. In fact, it was reading his speeches on religious freedom that got me particularly interested in how the court’s opinions have changed. I look up to him as a model of faith and reason working together, and appreciate his desire to interpret the Constitution from the words, not by their “spirit”.
What in your life are you most passionate about?
How do you spend your free time?
Gardening, crafting, reading, playing with my siblings, talking or writing letters to my friends, playing flute or recorder, sewing, baking.
What are your plans for the future?
I do not yet have set plans, but I do know that I will be going on to attend a Catholic College where I can grow in faith and pursue truth, and both grow in the “art of being human” as well as prepare for a career where I can make a positive impact for truth.
If you could do one super impactful thing to help people, what would it be?
Lead people to care about truth and goodness and seek them both.
Why is the Constitution relevant today?
Because it continues to protect our freedoms, to give us peaceful means to change our government. After the French Revolution, they had revolution after revolution. After the American Revolution, we had peaceful transfers of power. The rights the Constitution protects and the system it sets up still give Americans great freedoms, even if we are becoming complacent and willing to give them away.