Jackson Park students portray our nation’s leaders

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Joanie Morris
Salisbury Post
KANNAPOLIS ó George Washington had 36 dogs, 14 horses and a parrot named Polly.
Thomas Jefferson liked to greet White House visitors in his pajamas and slippers.
Martin Van Buren was the first president born a U.S. citizen.
Ulysses S. Grant ate cucumbers soaked in vinegar for breakfast and Ronald Reagan loved jelly beans.
Theodore Roosevelt was the first president to ride in an airplane and Dwight D. Eisenhower was the only president to serve in both World Wars.
Those are just some of the facts shared with parents, grandparents and siblings in the audience Tuesday afternoon as Jennifer Van Tighem’s second-graders and Jamie Clark’s third-graders presented their annual State of the Union addresses at Jackson Park Elementary School.
All but three presidents ó Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield and William McKinley ó were in attendance, dressed to the nines in dad’s old suits, with drawn on beards and mustaches, as well as powdered hair.
There was even a really tall top hat, thanks to President Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by Amiere Ford.
Van Tighem’s class last year gave the first of what’s now an annual State of the Union address, where parents are invited to see the culmination of a month’s hard work, research and practice.
“My kids took an interest in the presidents,” Van Tighem said, explaining how the project got started. They were learning about United States history in accordance with state standards, and “just wanted to learn more.”
“I bought all the president books I could find,” she added. The students spent time researching their chosen president, and then writing that president’s State of the Union address. After practicing, they presented the addresses Tuesday to a crowd of about 50 gathered in the Jackson Park multi-purpose room.
“The purpose is to learn more about the presidential history,” Van Tighem said. “It goes with our state standards, with our nation’s history.”
Van Tighem admitted that she didn’t know nearly as much about the presidents when she was in second and third grade as the students who gave addresses did on Tuesday.
And it’s not something they are likely to forget with facts such as this: George W. Bush served as head football cheerleader his senior year in high school.
Contact Joanie Morris at 704-932-3336 or jmorris@salisburypost.com.