Some Jerry Lee Faine Elementary fourth-graders learned unexpected lessons in state government while researching Alabama’s history.
Learning in Collaboration teacher Amanda Smith’s class was studying the state’s expansive history when student Lyriq Caldwell discovered a fun fact.
“We learned that it was a law to have a flag at every school property while school was in session,” she said, “and if you didn’t, it was breaking the law. And we did not want to break the law.”
Another student, Devin Flowers, looked out the window to investigate that an Alabama state flag was missing from the flagpole in front of the building.
“I was like, ‘Oh no,’” Flowers said.
Smith said when the extensive upgrades were occurring over the summer, the state flag was discovered to be torn. The school received a new flagpole and American flag, but no one realized the state flag was missing in the shuffle.
Smith used the discovery as a teaching opportunity.
“I said ‘What can we do?’” she said. “And we just started brainstorming, and they said, ‘We’re going to write a letter!’”
Students looked up their state representative, Paul Lee, and addressed their letters to his office.
“I asked him could we have a flag because we did not want to break the law and breaking the law is bad,” Caldwell said. “I asked, ‘Please, can we have a flag? That would be really nice of you.’”
Caldwell was unsure if Lee would be able to come to their school because she knew he had a busy schedule.
Lee surprised them at their school Thursday morning to present them with a state flag.
“Fortunately, I had exactly what they wanted — the Alabama flag — and so it was easy to make that happen for them,” Lee said. “Today, we fulfilled a wish.”
State legislators are given a number of flags each year to give out, although the priority are schools, Lee said.
Students were elated when Lee invited the group of problem-solvers to the state Capitol during the next legislative session to tour the House of Representatives and Senate chambers.
“I think they realized that by reaching out and getting a response, it may make them more active. There is a process,” Lee said. “We, as legislators, represent everyone regardless of where they live or what age they are, and we’re here to try as best we can to meet whatever need it is. In this case, it was a group of kids that wanted a flag for their school.”
Caldwell, Flowers, Devonte Smith and Myshawn Fleming shared some other fun facts they learned during their studies about the Alabama flag, adopted 124 years ago, including:
» The state flag is a crimson St. Andrew’s cross on a white field.
» The bars forming the cross must be at least 6 inches long and must extend diagonally across the flag from side to side.