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The City Journals

Willow Springs Fifth-Grade Students Show Pride, Patriotism

Jun 19, 2015 07:06AM ● By Julie Slama

Willow Springs fifth-grade students jump during their performance in the “Hope of America” program. Photo courtesy of Julie Slama

About 150 Willow Springs fifth-grade students presented their “Hope of America” program, starting with the country’s early years of the Declaration of Independence to thanking first responders, naming them among their American heroes.

The program, directed for the fourth annual time by Annette Alley on May 27, featured speaking parts, songs, soloists, PowerPoint photos and the school’s 2015 Great American Award winners, who wore medallions during their school program.

The Great American Award program, established in 1989 by Clare Tobler in Boulder City, Nev., has become a tradition in learning the fifth-grade United States history curriculum. Each school may alter it some to fit their curriculum, but the basis remains the same.

Among the requirements for the award at Willow Springs, students needed to choose four options from the following: to research, write and present a biography on an American; memorize in order the U.S. presidents; create a timeline of a certain period in U.S. history; recite the Gettysburg Address and present an art project showing patriotism, which could include poetry, dance, music, sculpture or other artwork. The latter was displayed in the school lobby during the program.

Great American students also needed to learn the states and the capitals, the first and fourth verses of “The Star Spangled Banner,” and the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, the last two which they performed during their program.
Student soloists perform May 27 during Willow Springs’ “Hope of America” program. Photo courtesy of Julie Slama

 The program also included soloists Genievere Kentner and Cole Anderson in “I Love America,” and Eli Kimball and Lucie Packer in “Thank You Military,” where the students honored all who are serving, or have served, in the armed forces.

Fifth graders also talked about the right to vote and the Civil Rights movement before singing “Vote” and “I Have a Dream.” Other songs included “America Rocks,” “We Can Be a Light,” “The Bill of Rights” and “This is America,” among others.

“This program goes with our social studies core,” Alley said. “If you teach them about it and then you have them learn and memorize a song, they’ll know it all their lives. These kids can tell you what each one of these songs means. I’ve run into former students and tell them we’re doing the program, and they burst out in one of the songs at the grocery store. It’s so neat to see.”

Alley, who plans to retire this year after teaching for 39 years, with the last nine at Willow Springs, said that they’ve received great community support. 

“Every year, we’ve had special people in the audience — the Draper mayor, representatives, National Guard, fire, police, military — and they get to see that we respect them and thank them,” she said.

Four years ago, one of Senator Orrin Hatch’s staff attended the program when they decided to perform “America Rocks,” a song with lyrics written by Hatch. He presented the school with a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol.

“I love this program. It’s been great for parents to see their kids learn and grandparents to realize we’re still teaching history in our schools. They sang with their hearts and it brought tears to my eyes,” Alley said.