By Andy Ross

Killeen Daily Herald

For students in Tracey McDaniels' history classes at Eastern Hills Middle School, watching the film "A More Perfect Union" has long been a required piece of curriculum.

The movie, which depicts events surrounding the 1787 Constitutional Convention, is a favorite of McDaniels' due to its tendency to spark lively classroom discussions on America's founding.

But this year the film struck a new cord.

During the section dramatizing the "Great Compromise" reached between the Founding Fathers, McDaniels was asked to hit stop.

"They wanted to know why our government can't do that today," McDaniels said, referencing the ability to compromise. "We talked about the gridlock in Washington, D.C., and how even if a particular bill is good, the other party will be against it."

The discussion that ensued led to a course of action: students would not only send copies of "A More Perfect Union" to America's top leaders, but they would write letters and gather signatures on a petition asking for more compromise in government.

On Friday, students busily wrote the letters and packaged boxes that will be sent next week.

Although the assignment was a first for the history teacher, McDaniels realized students were embracing the chance to reach out to Washington's elite. In addition to President Barack Obama, students could pick from the majority and minority leaders in both houses of Congress for a second letter and a copy of the movie.

As eighth-grader John Wichgers was preparing to write one of his letters, he said the compromise exhibited by the Founding Fathers in the film surprised him. Wichgers said his family often has discussions on current events over dinner and why the situation in Congress today is gridlocked.

"They were able to compromise back then, but now we are just sitting ducks waiting to be preyed upon by wolves," Wichgers said.

Another student, Mason Deleon, said he has started trying to understand why Republicans and Democrats disagree so badly on issues such as the national debt and health care.

"I'm really concerned about the future of our country," Deleon said.

Contact Andy Ross at or (254) 501-7468. Follow him on Twitter at KDHeducation.

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