Carbondale children celebrate U.S. for Sept. 11

By Gus Bode

Young students learn pride in country in “Red, White and Blue spirit days”

A flock of 3- through 6-year-olds stood in a wavy circle in the grass in front of Lakeland Early Childhood Center. Many of them wore red, white and blue construction paper hats, and others wore mixes of red, white and blue clothing. They dutifully held their hands to their hearts.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America …”


After the last word was spoken, the children squinted from the afternoon sun as they held up salutes at the flag draped low on the flagpole.

Students of Lakeland observed the anniversary of the country’s worst terrorist attacks with pride in their country instead of mourning.

Twice yesterday, students at Lakeland Early Childhood Center, 925 Giant City Road, circled the half-mast flag in front of the building, said the pledge of allegiance, sang “You’re A Grand Old Flag” and saluted.

The first ceremony was sponsored for about 120 kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students present in the morning. The second ceremony was for about 110 kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students present in the afternoon.

Elizabeth Lewin, superintendent of Lakeland, said the students need to observe the event in a way that is appropriate to their age. Lewin said discussion of the events of Sept. 11, 2001 may be too sophisticated and frightening for children that young.

Lewin said the schools instead keep observances simple by focusing on patriotism and love of America.

“It is a time to recognize our fallen heroes without putting undue stress on our children,” said Lynn Byrd, principal of Lakeland.


Byrd said it is too early to try to engage children on subjects such as terrorism and the loss of life at the World Trade Center, but the school is making efforts to appropriately commemorate the anniversary of the attacks.

“We are here to honor our government, our flag, and our fallen heroes,” Byrd said. “It is a staff wide effort, a building wide effort, to commemorate this day.”

Byrd said he does want the children to know that there are still people in the world that do not like Americans, and “we all have to defend each other.”

Byrd said Lakeland’s teachers are not highlighting the negatives of Sept. 11, but are promoting the positives of the country while working hand-in-hand to help children understand the significance of the day.

Lakeland has had “Red, White and Blue spirit days” every month of the school year since last October. The spirit days are held on the 11th of the month or the closest school day. Students participate in patriotic art projects and class discussions about America. Byrd said the monthly tributes will continue this year and beyond.

“It’s been a very positive experience for our students here,” Byrd said.

Tari Moorman, a kindergarten teacher at Lakeland, said her class didn’t really cover the events of Sept. 11.

“Mainly we just talked about how lucky we are that we live in America,” Moorman said.

Moorman said her class was singing patriotic songs and participating in flag activities that ranged from art projects to making flag cookies of graham crackers, frosting and licorice.

Moorman said none of her students seemed to realize why they were celebrating the day except that it is “Red, White and Blue day.”

Moorman said she stresses in class that America helps other countries if they have problems and Americans are lucky to have so much they can share with others.

Janet Broombaugh, coordinator of Lakeland’s pre-kindergarten, said students are learning about heroes such as firefighters, police officers and military servicemen to help them feel safe. She said learning about the heroes lets students know there are people to keep them safe.

Broombaugh said it is important to make children feel safe at the school as well as at home. Lakeland held a tribute to firefighters, police officers and military servicemen last December and had a marine come to the school to talk to the children.

Broombaugh said the students are learning about patriotism, loyalty, and safety in spirit days.

He said the school teaches students about stranger awareness as well as fire, earthquake and tornado drills and adults in the building have heightened awareness. She said Lakeland’s staff is very maternal.

“We’re pretty protective of these little ones,” Broombaugh said. “We’re their part time moms and dads when they’re with us.”

Byrd said he hopes the children of his school can grow up knowing what happened and the leaders of tomorrow will have learned from the mistakes of today.

“Hopefully, as a result of 9/11, we can pull together as a nation.”