By Kaitlin Fleming
More than 1,500 elementary school students in Etowah County and Attalla school systems participated in the Next Great Americans Kickoff Bus Tour and Super Citizen Program Kickoff on Friday, August 31.
The students participating in the event waved flags and wore patina colored paper crowns with exactly seven spikes, just like the crown worn by the Statue of Liberty, while they learned from beloved Libby Liberty, also known as Lady Liberty.
Libby Liberty, a real-life talking version of the 151 feet tall Statue of Liberty, gave lessons on citizenship and what it means to be proud of American freedom.
Libby Liberty also gave information about the Statue of Liberty, including the foot size, head size, age and color of the New York statue.
The Statue of Liberty was made in Paris, but assembled on Liberty Island in New York City. The statue served as a beacon of hope to immigrants that arrived on Ellis Island.
The children, ranging in grade levels, were taught more about liberty itself, which is essentially freedom. Libby Liberty also emphasized citizenship. Historical figures were presented as “super citizens.”
After a few selfies with students, Libby Liberty shared a poem titled “The New Colossus” written by Emma Lazarus. This widely known poem, with the famous lines “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore…” was written in 1883 to raise money for the construction of a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. In 1903, the poem was cast onto a bronze plaque and mounted inside the pedestal’s lower level.
After sharing the poem, Libby Liberty led the hundreds of children in a patriotic sing-along of the song “You in the USA.”
The main point of the event was to get the kids excited about starting the Super Citizen Program.
The Super Citizen Program teaches civics, financial literacy, character development and career readiness, as well as focuses on working together to explore the character and actions of everyday heroes in the students’ own communities. The motto of the program is, “When you honor a hero, you become a hero!”
So far, nearly 50,000 students have taken part in the Super Citizen Program in over 250 schools. Teachers receive the Super Citizen Program Resource Kit for free, courtesy of donors and grants.
Following the bus tour kickoff event, students will continue learning about American history, freedom, liberty, the constitution and what it means to be a “super citizen” every day.
Students from Attalla Elementary, Carlisle Elementary, Duck Springs Elementary, Gaston High, Glencoe Middle, Highland Elementary, Ivalee Elementary, John S. Jones Elementary, Southside Elementary, West End Elementary and Whitesboro Elementary participated in the kickoff event and will complete the Super Citizen program over the next 10 weeks.