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Showcasing Randy Wright and "The Liberty Bill"

Randy Wright and his students have an unusual goal -- to see an abridged version of the entire United States Constitution printed on the back of the one-dollar bill. Believe it or not, that passion, which has taken his students to Washington, D.C., gotten them on the evening news, and earned them recognition in magazines and newspapers, began with a dream that Wright experienced more than five years ago.

"For more than a dozen years, as part of civics class, my eighth grade students memorized and recited an abridged version of the entire U.S. Constitution," Wright told Education World. "In December 1997, we decided to film 180 students reciting the Constitution in unison. I was so inspired by the students' work that several nights later I woke up from a dream of seeing the Constitution on the back of one-dollar bills. I asked the students if they would like to pursue that dream all the way to Congress, and they unanimously voted yes."

Randy Wright's students prepare for a recent Liberty Bill presentation at Virginia's University of Richmond.

Because more than two-thirds of seven billion one-dollar bills are circulating outside the United States, Wright and his protgs view currency as a means of spreading American ideals about freedom more deeply throughout the nation and, more importantly, beyond its borders. As they have gone about seeking approval for their legislation, the students have learned that government is accessible, although sometimes slow to respond.

"Each summer, groups of students stride through the corridors of Washington's Congressional buildings distributing "Liberty Bill" information to Congressional staffers, sometimes getting the ear of a member of Congress," reported Wright. "The most rewarding moments have been when students spoke in the White House and testified on behalf of the Liberty Bill before the Domestic Monetary Policy Technology and Economic Growth Subcommittee hearing of the House of Representatives."

Students at Liberty Middle School want to spread the word about the Liberty Bill throughout the country.

Wright's students at Liberty Middle School in Ashland, Virginia, work tirelessly to spread the word about the Liberty Bill through mailings, e-mail, and personal appearances. Through the endeavor, they have internalized the values of perseverance and tenacity. The Liberty Bill Web site shares students' speeches and an image of the "redesigned" dollar bill. Classrooms across the nation are invited to use the Liberty Bill initiative as a teaching tool.

"We hope people all over the country join our efforts," Wright said. "It can help you reach your representatives in the Senate and House. Call them and ask them to become cosponsors of the Liberty Bill. Get your local schools involved. Spread the word to as many people as you can. The Liberty Bill, like the Constitution, belongs to everyone!

Images courtesy of Randy Wright.

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If you're a teacher who has completed an interesting or unusual activity with your class -- or if you know of a teacher who has -- please let us know about it. E-mail a brief description of the activity, along with your contact information, to [email protected]

Article by Cara Bafile
Education World®
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