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Sat, Sept. 21

Prescott High student, descendant of a Founding Father, taps Liberty Bell

Few people can say they're related to one of the original signers of both The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States.

But Prescott resident Mardi Read and her daughter, 16-year-old Alexa Scholl, claim such bragging rights. The two are direct descendants of Founding Father George Read, born in Maryland in 1733.

Scholl, a student at Prescott High School, will tap the Liberty Bell today, Independence Day, as part of a contingent made up of descendants of original signers. Scholl, whose middle name is Read, traveled to Philadelphia on July 2 with her mother as part of a select organization called "Descendants of Signers of the Declaration of Independence."

Scholl is a junior member of the organization.

"Every year they have eight or nine junior members tap the Liberty Bell. This year was my turn to get to do that," Scholl said.

Scholl, who previously visited Philadelphia on a 7th-grade excursion, said she's very excited to get to return to the area. She'll wear white gloves when she taps the bell.

"In the morning we'll have a practice. I don't know if you will really hear it; it's just a tap," Scholl said. "I'm really honored that I get to do this and represent George Read and our family."

After the tapping of the bell, the organization will hold a special meeting in Independence Hall. Both Scholl and her mother will be present for the meeting.

"The group gets to meet in the long room, which is blocked from the public," Read said. "This is something we've known about for about four years. We're pretty excited because we've been waiting for this day."

By the age of 15, George Read had graduated from a private school and began to study law. By age 19, he'd entered the Philadelphia bar. He later became a member of Congress and served as Delaware's attorney general and acting governor.

Besides signing the nation's most historical documents, Read also served in Congress when the Bill of Rights was passed, Read said. "George Read is known as the father of Delaware. There's a museum that was his house and there's a middle school named after him," Scholl herself has political aspirations, but as a political advisor or a campaign manager, and not as a politician. She plans to attend college at Arizona State University or the University of Arizona for a degree in political science.

"I don't want to be an actual politician, but more a behind-the-scenes kind of person," Scholl said.

Besides their visit to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, the two will also take a bus tour of Philadelphia and attend a black-tie dinner.

"It will be fun to be in Philadephia for the Fourth of July," Read said. "It feels like it will be the ultimate time to go."

Follow reporter Patrick Whitehurst on Twitter @pwdcourier

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