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Local nonprofit aims to provide a copy of the Constitution for every Tennessee eighth grader

, Nashville Tennessean, April 10, 2019

Society members of a local nonprofit that donate copies of the U.S. Constitution to students across Tennessee gathered in Nashville on Thursday to honor more than 40 members of its organization.

The 917 Society Constitution Project is a statewide initiative that delivers free pocket-sized copies of the document to eighth-grade social studies classrooms each school year.

Founder and Executive Director Joni Bryan called receiving the document a "rite of passage" into citizenship. 

"They get to read the actual words that were written in 1787," Bryan told a crowd of nearly 100 people including Republican Sen. Kerry Roberts and several other Congressional leaders gathered at the luncheon inside the Cordell Hull State Office Building. 

Tennessee is the first state making this program available statewide each year - including public, private and home-schooled students.

Dr. Ming Wang speaks during the 917 Society Annual Founders Day Luncheon on April 11, 2019. (Photo: Natalie Alund/The Tennessean)

Current society president Dr. Ming Wang, a proponent of the program, emphasized the importance of educating the next generation of children about history.

"I am someone who used to not have freedom (during China's Cultural Revolution when I was going to be deported, for life, to labor camp after ninth grade). I appreciate the freedom in America the most, much more than most Americans who have always had freedom," Wang said.

Whitthorne Middle School (Columbia, Tenn.) teacher Angie McClanahan, whose students received some of the pocket-sized copies, attended the luncheon and thanked the group for its efforts.

"We don't have a lot of materials to use and our kids don't take textbooks home," she told the crowd. "(This) is meaningful to them."

Reach reporter Mariah Timms at mtimms@tennessean.com or 615-259-8344 and on Twitter @MariahTimms

Direct link: https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2019/04/10/917-society-constitution-eighth-grade-social-studies-citizens/3427512002/

 

 

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