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Superintendent McKersie Takes Fifth Graders on Paul Revere's Ride

It’s another day in Hastings, and Superintendent Dr. William McKersie is doing what he calls his routine "walk-about" through the bustling halls of Farragut Middle School. 


On the itinerary is a visit to Kyle Case and Donna Gamble's fifth grade class for a guest reading of "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere," the 1860 poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Part of a districtwide program that uses curriculum-based

books recommended by teachers, the reading is one of many that Dr. McKersie has

given this school year.


Excited to continue their unit on the American Revolution, students sat patiently in groups of three waiting for Dr. McKersie to begin.


“Does anyone know anything about Paul Revere?” McKersie asked the class.  


An eager display of hands rose before one student was called upon. 


“He rode around on his horse!” the student exclaimed.


“Yes, that’s right,” Dr. McKersie said before giving the class some historical context. 


Dr. McKersie went on to explain that Paul Revere, an American Patriot, did, in fact, ride his horse through the countryside. Longfellow’s poem, written in the spring of 1860, is a stirring retelling of that evening on April 18, 1775, when the British were moving troops out of Boston in order to arrest revolutionary leaders in Lexington. Revere road through the night to warn them.


As the reading commenced, students were asked to take note of how the poem made them feel and to study the art on each page. Afterwards, they studied a map showing the route taken by Revere and his compatriots, William Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott, and their locations in relation to the British Army known as the Redcoats.

To conclude, Dr. McKersie spoke about the myth and reality conveyed in Longfellow’s poem. He explained that although there were others who proved their patriotism during the time period, Revere became the symbol of American courage, and of the danger and the fascination of the Revolutionary War. He also pointed out that Longfellow’s purpose for writing the poem, was to stir patriotic sentiment in New England by reminding his countrymen of their past.


The last stanza of the poem was a direct call for action against the South. The Union was in peril, and Paul Revere became the symbolic figure of action, the “night-wind of the past."


With an image of Paul Revere riding into the night on the classroom's projector, students were left with a vivid impression and an enhanced understanding of the beginnings of the American Revolution.