The Pratt school district has earned a grant to send six social studies and language arts teachers to the archives at the Eisenhower Center in Abilene in June to do primary research about our nation's heroes and the virtues that made them so important in history.

"Not many teachers get the opportunity to work in archives for a week," said David Schmidt, director of curriculum for USD 382. "It's not something you can learn in college."

Next fall, the teachers will bring what they learn about doing research back to their classrooms.

The mission of the Bill Of Rights Institute, which provided the grant, is to educate young people about the words and ideas of the nation's founders and the rights guaranteed in the founding documents. More than the documents themselves, however, Schmidt wants students to understand the virtues that made the founders great.

Seventh and eighth graders will use a curriculum called "Heroes and Villains: The Quest for Civic Virtue," reading stories about Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and others. Eighth graders will also take a field trip to the Eisenhower Center.

Schmidt thinks students will be very interested in visiting the only presidential library in Kansas.

High school juniors will write their own stories about heroes, both in the local community and beyond, and tie their actions to nine virtues: courage, humility, responsibility, justice, perseverance, community contributions, respect, integrity and self governance. The goal is that the students' stories will be published, either in an online format or as actual bound documents, and that they will become part of the curriculum for the following year's seventh and eighth graders.

Schmidt said that a project about local veterans, completed at Veterans Day by Sandy Foster's Liberty Middle School students, was "a good precursor" to the Bill Of Rights project for next year.