By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer
LINCOLN HEIGHTS--Sixty students from Lincoln Heights Elementary will lead the Pledge of Allegiance in Columbus on Wednesday when the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is certified.
Ohio is the only state that hasn't ratified the amendment. Known as the Civil Rights Amendment, it guarantees that all people born or naturalized in the United States are citizens, saying states cannot deprive citizens of due process and promises equal protection under the law.
"I told them that Ohio never signed this, so it's very important," said teacher Rhonda Twitty.
The first-, second- and third-grade Montessori students will lead the pledge shortly after the ceremony begins at 11:45 a.m. in the Statehouse. The children attend a school where the student body is 99 percent minority.
After hearing about the ceremony, Twitty called Sen. Mark Mallory, D-Cincinnati, who sponsored the ratification resolution in the Ohio Senate.
"I thought it was important enough to ask if we could bring our children," Twitty said.
In turn, Mallory asked if the children would lead the pledge.
To prepare, they've been studying Ohio government and practicing the pledge.
"It's really history coming to life for our kids," said Tyrone Olverson, principal of the 470-student school in the Princeton City School District.
The exercise fits right in with the school's goal of getting students more involved.
"Many people in the community lack trust in the government," Olverson said.
"We try to dispel that and tell students that they do have a say in what goes on. These are the future leaders of our community. If we get them involved now in the processes of government, it prepares them to be great leaders and creates a stronger community," Olverson said.
The amendment was ratified last March, after University of Cincinnati law students discovered Ohio rescinded its ratification in 1868 and never reinstated it.
Four of the seven law students who discovered the oversight will attend the ceremony. One of them, Jack Simms, will speak.
The Secretary of State will certify the resolution and deliver it to Gov. Bob Taft, who will transmit it to the National Archives. The ceremony, which will be covered live on C-SPAN, will take place in the Statehouse Atrium.
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