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Constitution Day inspires patriotism

Posted: September 21, 2009 5:49 p.m.
Updated: September 22, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Mitchell Elementary School third-grader Caitlyn Taylor sings "God Bless America."

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Flags were raised along with patriotism as students celebrated Constitution Day at Mitchell Elementary School in Canyon Country on Wednesday.

The school's student council organized a tribute to the day, which commemorates the formation and signing of the United States Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. (Constitution Day fell on Thursday this year.)

School spirit and a love for country were shown in a schoolwide effort to mark the day in history in their own way.

"We dressed up in red, white and blue to show that we are proud to be Americans," said fourth-grade student Jessica Ortiz, 9.

"It was fun to look around and see everyone in the whole school wearing the same colors."

An afternoon assembly invited the kindergarten-through-sixth-grade student body to gather in recognition of the historical landmark day.

"We want to make students aware of the importance of the Constitution," said second-grade teacher, Sheri Hanks.

Hanks' second-grade class joined her on the campus stage to perform the song "God Bless America."

Singing combined with signing as students belted out the well-known words and used sign language to carry the notes even further.

The performance is a long-standing tradition for Hanks, who teaches the ritual to her second-grade classes each year.

"Past students of mine watch from the audience," Hanks said. "They sign along sometimes, and it's great to see."

The words of the familiar song were not the only ones heard on campus that day.

The third-through-sixth-grade elected council students also read the preamble to the Constitution.

The document expresses Founding Fathers' intentions regarding the meaning of the Constitution and what they hoped it would achieve for the country.

"I think it's important because it gives us rules to live by," Ortiz said. "Rules keep us safe and help us live more peaceful lives."

Ortiz' friend and classmate, Yazmine Jimenez, agreed.

"The Constitution is for everyone," Jimenez said. "When we know the rules, we can keep our community protected. We don't want people getting hurt."

Throughout the school year, students will learn about the history of the Constitution during 20 to 30 minutes of class-time instruction.

Specialized learning material is supplied by the district and distributed among classrooms based on grade level.

But the school knows that getting students excited about learning should also come from doing.

"We put flags up all along the school's fence so we could get the feel of patriotism going," said Parent-Teacher Association member Catherine Hamburger.

"It's a really good thing to get students involved. I had my kids help me put the flags up and they were really excited about coming today."

Hamburger's sixth-grade son, Thomas, knows the importance of the Constitution.

"We celebrate what happened a long time ago because it is something that keeps our country strong," said 11-year-old Thomas Hamburger.

"It felt good to help my mom hang the flags," 8-year-old Kaitlin Hamburger said. "I want to help out more next year."

Students from Mitchell weren't the only ones to enjoy a day of celebrating the country's blueprint document.

Sulphur Springs Community School in Canyon Country also joined in some Constitution Day fun during daylong festivities on Thursday.

Wearing red, white and blue was just the beginning for students, faculty and staff who congregated by the school's flagpole.

Cub Scouts raised the flag as each grade level prepared for its own performances to show patriotism.

"We had so much fun," said the school's upper-grade music teacher, Kim Treat. "To see that much spirit was really inspirational."

Treat guided students as each grade sang a selection of classic patriotic tunes.

Students reveled in songs such as "This Land is Your Land," performed on harmonicas by sixth-grade students.

An "Allegiance Rap" was created and performed by fourth-graders followed by fifth-grade students performing "Oh, I Love America" while using sign language.

Primary music teacher Jill Finch took on kindergarten- through third-grade student performances.

"It was so cute to see our kindergartners do the song ‘You're a Grand Old Flag,'" Treat said.

Speeches were given by a representative from Congressman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon's office, R-Santa Clarita, as well as a war veteran who received the United States military decoration of the Purple Heart.

"Everyone was so great and you could really feel the moving presence of patriotism through the entire school," Treat said. "It brought tears to my eyes."

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