Flag Day Observance: Richmond honors U.S. Colors — all year round

Flag Day Observance: Richmond honors U.S. Colors — all year roundBy JAYME KINARD

News Review Correspondent

Each year, June 14 is set aside to honor Flag Day — a celebration of the Old Glory and its symbolism of independence and unity.

At Richmond Elementary School, the students and staff members show their respect and commitment to patriotism all year round by holding an elaborate Flag Raising ceremony on the last Friday of each month that school is in session.

The entire staff and student body participate wearing our nation’s colors of red, white and blue. Each class participates individually by carrying one American flag, while the entire school sings the patriotic song of the month together. Then, four members of the school’s student council work together in a show of respect for our country by raising the colors.

The ceremony is followed by an awards assembly, where eligible students receive a “Superstar Award” recognizing good behavior, a positive attitude and attendance for the month.

The final campus of Sierra Sands Unified School District to remain behind the gates of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, the school’s website describes the educational community as “a special place where all students are welcome.

“It is a unique blend of children whose parents are active duty military, Department of Defense workers and contractors, students who live in our zoned area in Ridgecrest and students with special needs. We emphasize and celebrate attitude, attendance and achievement.”

Many will attest to this mission statement.

And with a demographic that is heavily influenced by families who are constantly relocating, driving a continuous state of flux in a large part of the student body, the tie that binds many of the families of a military installation school is an overall sense of community and patriotism.

“The flag ceremony became a tradition years before I began working here,” said Denise Moliterno, a teacher at Richmond for 21 years.

“It is a celebration for the students, and more than anything it fosters respect.”

The student council is comprised of only fifth-graders, and all students who want to be on the student council have to run for office. The candidates put together a campaign; give speeches on topics such as leadership and responsibility and vote in an election. Their participation in this ceremony is an important part of their leadership role at the school.

According to the staff at Richmond, the flag ceremony is important to recognize because this practice is becoming less common in today’s public school systems. The value of the time and effort that goes into the ceremony stretches beyond the classroom, inadvertently teaching students life skills that will help them transform into respectful members of the community. The assembly following the flag ceremony gets students excited about being rewarded for being successful, which motivates them to continue doing well.

“The flag ceremony is really amazing to watch,” said Richmond Principal Michael Yancey. “There are students from all parts of the world, which offers a cross-cultural experience for everyone in attendance.

“One thing I’ve noticed that is really interesting is the number of foreign military members that attend the event, even when they have no children participating.”

This observation is key because it is representative of the purpose of the flag ceremony — attendees from around the world come together to celebrate and experience American values. Anyone with base access is welcome to attend the flag ceremony including all students, staff members, parents and members of the community.

Pictured: Richmond Elementary School students at the start of May’s flag ceremony. -- Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2017-06-09