The halls of the Anoka County Head Start Center in Coon Rapids were filled with flashes of the red, white and blue American flag and the sounds of patriotic melodies as students paraded around the school for their 11th annual Flag Day celebration June 14.
With waves and cheers from their parents and teachers, students proudly waved their flags as they walked from the gym throughout the school, passing by the Coon Rapids VFW Post 9625 honor guard and women’s auxiliary team standing at attention. Rainy weather prevented the parade and flag raising from taking place outside.
After the parade, the honor guard presented the flag to students and led them in saying the Pledge of Allegiance.
Students sat in awe and silence as past VFW commander and honor guard member Mike King played “To the Colors” on the bugle.
VFW Commander Marvin Roepke shared with students and parents what the colors of the flag represent and the auxiliary team gave them information about proper flag etiquette.
Roepke said white stands for liberty in the land of the free, red stands for the courage and sacrifice of the nation’s defenders and blue stands for the loyalty of the nation.
“It really teaches children a sense of the nation,” Head Start Lead Secretary Jennifer DeMars said.
In the days leading up to the celebration, students learned about the flag and worked on making the hats and signs that they wore in the parade. They also practiced the Pledge of Allegiance.
“I think they get a full understanding of having pride in the flag,” Family Service Worker Stephanie Olson said.
DeMars said she enjoys that students get to celebrate Flag Day in between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July because it continues the patriotic spirit of the event.
“Even if they’re not grasping it now, they’ll have a fuller understanding when they’re older. They’ll remember they did this,” DeMars said.
Head Start parent and volunteer Brissa Donis came to the Flag Day celebration to help and watch the children participate. She said her son was very excited to wear the red, white and blue colors to school.
“We’re more familiar with the Mexican flag, but this gave me the chance to explain the American flag to him,” Donis said. “He asked me, ‘do we have two flags mommy?’”
Head Start pre-school students include children ages three to five from income-eligible families.
Associate Director Patti Tuma said aside from the Flag Day celebration Head Start also has a fall festival, mid-winter classroom celebrations and a spring celebration.
Head Start has several programs that run year-long and others that run the nine months of the school year.
Bethany Kemming is at [email protected]