Kerr Elementary first-grader Brock Sumner faced the front of the schools gym, lifted his hand to his heart and began belting out the words to the national anthem, joining dozens of other young voices in the song during a special program at the school Friday.
It was the culmination of a week-long focus on the national anthem and the history surrounding it, a project that crossed the curriculum and involved teachers in various subjects, including arts and music, helping students to understand the importance of the song and to learn the words of the song.
The week ended with an assembly, where youngsters and their teachers donned red, white and blue, sat cross-legged on the floor and watched a detailed video that put an exclamation point on the things they’d been learning all week, ending with a collective singing of The Star-Spangled Banner.”
It was all part of Kerr’s celebration of National Anthem Day, a nationally-recognized educational event designed to highlight the anthem.
According to music teacher Amy Jackson, who pulled the program together, National Anthem Day was in response to a survey that showed two out of three Americans didn’t know the words to the national anthem.
“The National Association for Music Educators created the project as a way to re-teach the anthem,” Jackson said, “and to raise awareness of the importance of music in schools.”
Jackson used her music classes throughout the week to talk about the song and teach youngsters the words. Also hopping on board was music teacher Emily Colt, who tied her studies for the week to social studies lessons geared toward citizenship.
“In art, we can’t really sing, but we took the social studies standard and used it. I had students create an American flag. We talked about the 13 colonies, what the stars represented, and then we drew a hand print on the flag representing how we are to hold our hand over our heart.”
Other teachers, Jackson said, tied their own lessons to the theme, as well, giving students a broad view of the national anthem and its history.
“All the activities we did during the week led up to our event on Friday,” Jackson said.
Both kindergarten and first grade students were invited to assemblies where teachers and support staff guided students through a mini history lesson.
All the children involved in the program said they were excited to be a part and enjoyed learning more about the song and the flag.
And they all enjoyed the art tied to the music.
“I like that we colored the flags,” said 5-year-old Yasmine Ramos.
“I liked painting my hand to make the flag,” added classmate Kemaury Alicea-Bell.