Presidents Day prompts local school to look at history - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Presidents Day prompts local school to look at history

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Travis Roemhild is a reporter at the Ahwatukee Foothills News. Reach him at (480) 898-4903 or

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Posted: Sunday, February 19, 2012 8:00 am

A good deal of parents and their children will celebrate Monday by sleeping in, maybe doing some yard work and cap the day off with a nice family meal. With how fast-paced it seems our lives have become, who can blame us for appreciating a day off by doing what we need most - relaxing?

One local school has been working up to Presidents Day with appropriate material so that its students know why they have Monday off from school. It's almost a perfect segue, really, to teach kids about the presidents and give them perspective seeing as how this is an election year and the Arizona Republican Primary is less than two weeks away.

Presidents Day is a way to pay homage to two of our most famous presidents in honor of their February birthdays. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln helped to shape the development of the United States of America, and Monday is a federal holiday to recognize their achievements.

I spoke with Kyrene de la Colina Elementary principal Kelley Brunner about what her school was doing in honor of Presidents Day. It turned out to be quite a bit. But she agreed that some may not realize why exactly they have a three-day weekend.

"Knowing history and knowing the presidents that shaped our history is obviously important and some kids don't know about that, unfortunately," she said. "This year, it came at a time during the Arizona Centennial, which drew some of the attention away from Presidents Day."

The third-grade team at Colina built life-size representations of past presidents, such as Lincoln and Washington, which decorated the school hallways last week. On Friday, the team of third-grade teachers invited parents to come see the designs and speak with their students, some of whom are going above and beyond for their Presidents Day Tea.

"Some of the kids are planning on dressing up as presidents and getting into their roles," Brunner said. "The third-grade team came together to make this idea happen, including the idea to create life-size images of them and do presentations as part of their research."

I think whatever teachers can do to get their students more actively involved in learning about the democratic process and what happened in history to shape the way America is run today, we will all be better off in the long run.

Especially since this since this is an election year, with presidential debates starting in just a few short months, now is the best time to get kids interested in what it means to be president. Who knows what is going to happen with our economy and the world economy, as well as the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, but whomever the American public elects or reelects, will have their hands full for the next four years.

It's an interesting time in the history of the United States and the more context we provide to the youth of this nation about the presidency, the better.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

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