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Troutdale students, staff plan banner day

Kiwanis clubs teach students about flags
by: Contributed photo Michael Orelove, a member of the Kiwanis, organized the recent flag project at Troutdale Elementary School and stands in the new ‘Hall of Flags.’

Erick A. Sanchez, 10, a fifth-grader at Troutdale Elementary School summed up the history of U.S. flags eloquently, from the 13 stars on the Betsy Ross flag to the 50 on today's version.

'It shows that little by little it came together to form a masterpiece,' he said.

The Columbia River Gorge and Troutdale Kiwanis clubs worked with students and staff to create all 28 U.S. flags to be placed on permanent display in a school 'Hall of Flags,' according to Michael Orelove, a Kiwanis member. The Hall will be dedicated in a noontime ceremony Friday, Dec. 2, he added.

Orelove also belongs of the Portland Flag Association and the North American Vexillological Association, which promotes the scholarly study of flags. Orelove gave a short presentation about the history of the flag to each Troutdale class.

'The 15-star flag, for example, was the first United States Flag to be carried across the continent to the Pacific Ocean,' Orelove said. 'Lewis and Clark carried it on their expedition, and it was also the flag flown over Fort McHenry at Baltimore on Sept. 13-14, 1814, that inspired Francis Scott Key to write 'The Star-Spangled Banner'.'

Each board contains historical information about the flag displayed. Kiwanis painted the red and white stripes as well as the blue field, and students added white wooden stars to the blue field. Each class added stars for one or two flags, Orelove said.

'The students in the class tried to create a pattern with a set number of stars to reflect some type of idea or theme,' Principal Steve Johnson said. 'Some chose geometric patterns, others chose such things as a shooting star pattern, a peace symbol, a happy face, or using the stars to spell out 'USA,' or the number of stars on that flag.'

What they learned

Troutdale's students said they learned plenty about the flag and how it symbolizes U.S. history.

'After the 13 colonies, the flag changed almost every time they added new states up to what is now the 50 states,' Sanchez said.

Calvin Ta, 9, a fourth-grader, voiced a similar view.

'I learned that each version of the flag represents the state or states that were added then,' he said.

Vanessa Valencia Lopez, 10, a fourth-grader, said she learned that 'if you have a flag hanging at night in the dark, you need to have a light shining on it.'

She also said: 'Before, I looked at the flag as if it was just a piece of cloth, but now I see it as a symbol of freedom and joy.'

Adam Cole, 11, a fifth-grader, said before the project, 'I didn't know … that the 13 stripes were for the original 13 colonies.'

Justin Treat, 10, a fifth-grader, enjoyed learning about the flag's makeup.

'What I found most interesting about the flags project was figuring out designs you could do, working together with my class and seeing the finished project,' he said.

He added that he learned 'Hawaii was the most recent state to join the United States.'

Chris Odom, 10, a fifth-grader, enjoyed 'looking at all the different star patterns the kids made.'

Berenice Montiel-Carrasco, 9, a fourth-grader, said the flag project inspired her to think about her country.

'When I look at the flag, I feel happy that I live in here in this place,' she said.

Emily Serniotti, 10, a fifth-grader, was equally reflective.

'It makes me feel proud - rather than sad - for all the people who died for our country,' she said.