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Teacher, students spend 11 years restoring old cemetery

Associated Press • Oct 2, 2016 at 4:00 PM

PLYMOUTH — A high school teacher and his students have spent more than a decade giving new life to an abandoned cemetery in Plymouth.

The Detroit Free Press reported that the Salem High School civics teacher Darrin Silvester and his students began preservation efforts at Shearer Cemetery 11 years ago.

"This is a more authentic way and a better way and a more memorable way for students to learn," said Silvester.

When they took on the project, brush had grown as high as 25 feet and only one headstone was visible. Numerous headstones have been unearthed since, but Silvester said many more still haven't been found.

Driven by his love for history, Silvester has worked with students from the district's three different high schools to connect them to their community's history.

"More than anything else, I want kids to be able to get their hands dirty with history," he said. "I want them to get outside and learn about ... what happened in their community before they got here, as opposed to giving them worksheets and books and notes and having them take standardized tests."

Over the years, more people have participated in the restoration effort which has led to the discovery of more stones outside of the cemetery and around the community.

Silvester hosted a service day at the cemetery on Saturday. He hoped people from the community would come out to donate rocks, stones and plants or help keep the cemetery in good condition by raking and pulling weeds.

Shearer Cemetery dates back to 1826. The last burial there occurred in 1915.

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