Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Flag Day is a big deal at Royalton-Hartland Elementary School.
So big, in fact, that this year’s celebration included a replica of Mount Rushmore, complete with talking presidents.
“We wanted to do something different,” said Heather Pedini, a teacher at the school who helps organize the Flag Day ceremony.
The replica was only part of the event. Students packed the school’s auditorium, singing patriotic songs and chanting “USA! USA!” Some students wore hats with flags on them and the entire audience waved small American flags.
Along with the music, students also received lessons on how to properly care for and display the American flag from the four former presidents whose faces adorn the nationally recognized monument. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln all spoke from their respective spots on Mount Rushmore.
Building the replica and getting the mouths to move on the faces of the presidents was time consuming, but worth the effort, Pedini said.
“I did it in five or six long days,” she said.
Elementary school Principal Donna VanSlyke also spoke to the students, explaining the meaning of Flag Day.
Fourteen veterans from the Gasport area were on-hand, receiving several ovations from the students. Representing the Army, Navy and Air Force, the veterans led the procession from inside the school to the flagpole outside. The flag was raised while students and the veterans looked on, either saluting or holding their hands over their hearts. The National Anthem was sung and Taps was played by three students.
Pedini, who describes herself as a “big patriot,” said it’s vital to instill respect for veterans and a love of country in the children at the school.
“These kids need to learn how important the veterans are,” she said. “I just think it’s so important.”
For past Flag Day celebrations, Pedini has dressed up as a soldier from the War of 1812 and Betsy Ross. Constructing the replica of Mount Rushmore this year was a way to “add in more history,” she said.
“It’s a big to-do here,” she said.Contact reporter Michael Canfield at 439-9222, ext. 6246, or follow him on Twitter @MikeCanfield36.