Maconaquah Middle School students circled around the school flag last week to read the Declaration of Independance aloud. Two eighth grade U.S. History classes completed the exercise. 
Herald Photo / Eric Stoff
Maconaquah Middle School students circled around the school flag last week to read the Declaration of Independance aloud. Two eighth grade U.S. History classes completed the exercise. Herald Photo / Eric Stoff
Maconaquah Middle School eighth grade students circled around an American Flag last week to read the Declaration of Independence aloud. It was a powerful lesson that the students won't soon forget.

“The Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson to be performed publicly,” said MMS Social Studies teacher Jennifer Lorona. “This lesson is important because we want students to appreciate their country and the reasons why our founders fought for independence.”

Michael Sommers, first year MMS English and Social Studies teacher joined Lorona for this year’s lesson, and their classes completed it together.

Sommers said he hopes the students gained communication and reading skills, along with an appreciation for the country in which they live.

“We hope that they have a newfound respect for the colonists who fought endlessly for our freedoms,” he said.

The two eighth grade U.S. History classes studied the document for a few weeks before moving outside and reciting it aloud, Lorona said. They also watched a dramatic reading of the document by famous actors, Michael Douglas, Winona Ryder, Whoopi Goldberg, Edward Norton, and Mel Gibson.

MMS eighth grader Mason Yoars said the lesson was “powerful because we were all reading it together instead of reading it by ourselves.”

Zach Nester, MMS eighth grader, agreed.

“It made me feel more free,” he said.

Yoars and Nester said they understood the document, even though language from a different time period can be challenging.

“There were some big words and (grammatical differences) like, ‘Thus,’ but I could tell what it meant. It's just different,” Nester said.

Yoars said it’s important for young adults to read the Declaration of Independence because it helps them compare and contrast modern America to America’s first moments as it cut ties with England.

Nester agreed, saying it’s important to read historical documents, “to know where it all started.”

“Little words can make a big impact on everything,” he said.