This summer I began to think about specific ways that the Lower School students could observe this anniversary in a way which would be developmentally appropriate.
I remembered the impact it had on our students when everyone gathered together to form the 50th on the field for Randolph's anniversary five years ago. Springboarding from that event led to the idea of our Lower School students forming a human flag in honor of "The Star- Spangled Banner."
Cindy Shaw, Adam Bernick, Laurel Shockley, and I met over the summer to discuss the possibility and all were in total agreement that our Lower School students would benefit from this observation.
In preparation for Friday our students have been reading books, listening to stories , watching videos, using interactive websites, and doing vocabulary studies, math activities and thinking routines about the story of Francis Scott Key, the writing of the lyrics, and the original flag from Fort McHenry, which is now housed at the Smithsonian Institute. This has been a collaboration throughout the entire Lower School.
As part of the Lower School curriculum "The Star-Spangled Banner" is studied and learned in the "Songs of Our Country" unit in 3rd grade, but given this significant anniversary it seemed the appropriate time to give broader attention to our national anthem.
I believe that it has become a wrong assumption in our country that our national anthem is a song which is too hard for the average person to sing and most are observers rather than participators whenever it is sung. I was made keenly aware of how our citizens do not sing our anthem this summer when watching the soccer World Cup; when another country's national anthem was played and all in attendance jubilantly joined in the singing of their anthem. Just as everyone knows the Pledge of Allegiance, we should all know "The Star-Spangled Banner"!
It is my hope that as our K-4 students sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" they will serve as role models for our community to show that our national anthem is accessible to all and everyone should join in the celebration of honoring our past and respecting our future by singing instead of just listening to our national anthem!
On the morning of September 14, 1814 Francis Scott Key was questioning, "Is our flag still flying over Fort McHenry, or has a white flag of surrender been raised? Have the British captured the fort and is their flag now flying over the fort?"
In that morning light, after a long night battle, he was overjoyed to see the 30x45 foot garrison flag with its stars and stripes still waving over the fort!
Let us join in celebrating the fact that the flag is still flying by joining in the singing of the words he penned that morning! What a joyous privilege we all have and our youngest students are showing us how!
Photos: David Brown, Meade Davis, Laurel Shockley, Peter Townsend and Liv Wilson.