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Tue, Sept. 17

Students celebrate American heritage with skits, songs

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Members of the Trinity Christian School band play patriotic songs for the crowd Thursday morning.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Members of the Trinity Christian School band play patriotic songs for the crowd Thursday morning.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->

Austin Morse, a Trinity Christian School fifth-grader portraying Declaration of Independence signer John Witherspoon, said Benjamin Rush persuaded him to come to America and become president of Princeton University.

"We moved our five surviving children and his most precious personal possessions, his 300 books," said Emma Shelabarger, playing the role of Mrs. Elizabeth Witherspoon.

The skit was part of Thursday's Heritage and Grandparents Day at Trinity Christian School, which featured the band playing patriotic songs, choir performances, a student art show, lunch with their families, and skits about the Founding Fathers performed by kindergarten through sixth grade students.

"It's so important for our students to learn about their American heritage," said Kyle Maestri, headmaster of the Prescott school. "Fifty-six people signed the Declaration of Independence and most of us only know about three of them."

As Margaret Owens looked at the students' versions of impressionistic masterpieces using pointillism, she said her grandson Jaydon Harguess - a fifth-grader who was wearing a colonial costume - has been excited about the event for some time.

"We get to show our families what we've been working on," said Lessa Patterson, a fifth-grader in the choir. "We get to use our talents, and I get to sing my first solo."

During the kindergarteners' skit on George Washington, one student said Washington found four bullet holes in his coat after a battle, he realized he was not wounded, and called that a miracle.

"The students have been preparing for this for the past two months," said Monique McConnell, who teaches art, music, drama, and choir. "The students have music and art three times a week, and what they do in art class is linked to what they're studying in history."

And that link between history and art really works, said Pete Stewart, whose daughter Dylan Stewart is a first-grader at the school.

"It's incredible to me that she knows more than I do about art," Stewart said. "She came home talking about Van Gogh and his painting "Starry Night.' They really get excited about it and make a connection to what was going on at the time."

Josiah White, a sixth-grader, said he was looking forward to playing in the band the most, while Remi DeYoung, a fifth-grader, said she liked seeing all the people in the audience who are "proud of us."

Before the choir sang "Yankee Doodle Dandy," one member explained the British originally sang the song to make fun of Americans, but the Americans sang it back to taunt the British, and now it has become a song of pride.

Judy and John Vanderhoven, grandparents of a second-grade student, said they had been looking forward to seeing his work and his performance.

"Students can learn so much more about history from people who have lived through it, like their grandparents, than they learn from a textbook," Maestri said.

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