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Learning about patriotism

Music teacher Gwen Stewart explains the meaning behind patriotic songs. (click for larger version)
September 22, 2010 - Strong, young voices took over Independence Elementary's cafeteria Friday morning.

All the students sang The Star-Spangled Banner proudly on the last day of Patriotic Week.

"We do this every week but the singing behind the National Anthem was probably as powerful as I have ever heard," said Principal Chris Turner.

Before the students began to sing, music teacher Gwen Stewart, gave the kids a brief explaination of the song's historic meaning.

As the British and America fought at Fort McHenry, many waited to see which flag would be raised to indicate who won the Battle of Baltimore.

"The red rocket red glare lit up the night," she told them. "They didn't have electrocity."

The school sang the first verse of the four verses in the song.

"The wonderful thing about kids is they are not intimidated about their own musical prowess or lack thereof," said Steward. " When adults stand at a game they often will not sing the national anthem. It's not because they are unpatriotic or not respectful it's because they physically can't sing it. Most adults can sing seven notes and the National Anthem has two octaves. What I love about kids is it doesn't deter them. They don't care. They are going to sing it because it's their country's song."

Jennifer Davis-Elkin's fifth grade class opened the morning with a skit the students wrote about the Constitution, signed on September 17, 1787.

"The students have been doing a lot during Patriotic Week," said Turner. "Every classroom has had some sort of activity, either learning about the flag or reading about the Constitution."

Wendi Reardon

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