Learning an Important Lesson
Fifth graders at Rector Elementary are learning important lessons through a very special daily task. Each morning and afternoon, two fifth graders raise the United States and Arkansas flags on the school flagpole. Just before the completion of classes in the afternoon, two students return to the flagpole, located directly in front of the RES entrance, to safely retrieve and secure the flags at the end of the day.
These important duties are shared by students in the fifth grade classes taught by Leisa Wesley and Barbara Robertson. The duties alternate between the two classes each month, with new students taking over the daily task.
Currently, the duty is being performed by Shannon Patterson, Lastin Lindsey and alternate Christian Childress.
The three boys know the task of raising and lowering the flags is important, with each approaching the task with respect.
"The flags are important and should be respected," Patterson, 12, said.
"You have to make sure the flags are folded properly and never, ever touch the ground," Childress, 11, said.
It's been a cold March, but the three young men have performed their task admirably.
"It doesn't matter if it's cold, you still have to do it the right way and honor the flags," Lindsey, age 10, said.
As part of the routine, the students retrieve the flags from the RES office each morning just before 8 a.m. Working together, they hook the flags to the steel cable of the flag pole, raising them high for all to see. Each afternoon, prior to the sounding of the final bell, they head outdoors once again to retrieve the flags, folding them and properly storing them in their individual boxes.
"This program teaches the kids about the proper ways to handle a flag," RES principal Nate Henderson said. "That's something that's not really taught much any more. It also gives them a little bit of responsibility which they can appreciate. The kids want to be chosen for this and take it very seriously. Otherwise, they don't get to do it."
As March rapidly winds down, a new set of students will soon be called to prepare the flags each day.
"I'll miss doing it," Patterson said of the daily routine. "It's something important. I like putting the flags up and taking them down."
All three boys agree if the next chosen group is not up to the task, they'll gladly resume the duties.
"I can do it again," Childress said. "I want to."