Overton students celebrate Presidents Day

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 20, 2012

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — Ronald Reagan was the oldest U.S. president ever elected, taking office at 69 years old.
At 43, John F. Kennedy was the youngest.
James Madison was the smallest president, standing 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighing less than 100 pounds.
William Howard Taft was the largest president, weighing more than 300 pounds.
Those are just a few presidential facts students at Overton Elementary School learned Monday.
During the school’s first Presidents Day celebration, Curriculum Coach Theresa Pierce told students about the country’s first president, George Washington.
“He was the leader of the continental Army and the continental Congress,” she said. “Today we are celebrating his birthday along with Abraham Lincoln.”
Pierce also told students about how, as a young man, Washington had been an adventurer, traveling to the Western frontier where he “barely escaped death.”
And she didn’t leave out information about Washington’s personal life.
“He had a wonderful family although he had no children of his own,” Pierce said. “He was an excellent dancer, standing at 6 feet 2 inches tall” during a time when most men were about 5-foot-8 or 5-foot-10.
“When he would get ready to give a speech he would put on his spectacles, which is what we would call glasses, and he would say, ‘Pardon me, but I have not only grown weary but also blind in service to my country.’ ”
First-grader Alex Stewart read off a list of the country’s 44 presidents on a video shown during the ceremony. He also rattled off answers to presidential trivia questions posed by Pierce.
During the event, Pierce unveiled a Rembrandt Peale painting of George Washington that the school acquired through a grant project.
“When we received it, they suggested that we have a celebration for it,” Pierce said. “I was going to just have a dedication, but then these ideas just kept coming, so we decided to do a colonial fair with singing and dancing and marching.”
Pierce recruited about a dozen parent and community volunteers to conduct the colonial fair, which featured stations where “militiamen” taught the students to march and “townspeople” gave them a chance to try their hand at old games.
Martha and George Washington made an appearance during the fair, sharing details about their lives. John and Abigail Adams did the same.
Thomas Jefferson gave the students a quick calligraphy lesson.
Several students dressed up as presidents and first ladies.
Fourth-grader Jose Carrillo Lopez came as Herbert Hoover, while third-grader Jabari Hogue enlisted the help of his mother to transform into Abraham Lincoln, his favorite president.
Sydney Sims, a fourth-grader, dressed up in a black gown to imitate former first lady Jackie Kennedy and first-grader Abby Pullium came as Abigail Adams.
Fourth-graders Gavin Shehan and Elle Kennedy came dressed as themselves, but with a twist.
“We’re the future presidents,” Elle said.
Pierce said each adult or student who dressed up for the festivities was required to memorize an interesting fact about their person.
“That made it really fun because they actually learned something about that person that they’ll probably never forget,” she said.
Students also sang “Yankee Doodle” and for dessert enjoyed a cake designed by Debbie Suggs to resemble a dollar bill.
Pierce said Monday’s activities were a way to “bring history to life.”
“I hope they take away an appreciation for history,” she said. “With all the emphasis on reading, math and science, I feel like we still need to celebrate history and appreciate it.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
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Test your knowledge

1. Who is the oldest President ever elected?
A. Ronald Reagan 
B. James Polk
C. Benjamin Harrison 
D. William McKinley 

2. Which president was the first to attend a baseball game?
A. Ronald Reagan 
B. James Polk
C. Benjamin Harrison 
D. William McKinley 

3. Which president was not an avid collector and player of marbles? 
A. George Washington 
B. Thomas Jefferson
C. James Madison 
D. John Adams 

4. Which president was not assassinated while in office?
A. Abraham Lincoln
B. Andrew Jackson 
C. William McKinley
D. John F. Kennedy 

5. Which state is the birthplace to the most presidents?
A. South Carolina
B. Massachusetts 
C. Texas
D. Virginia 
6. Which president was the first to visit all 50 states?
A. Richard Nixon 
B. George Washington 
C. Harry Truman
D. Ronald Reagan 

7. Which president was the only one to marry in the White House?
A. William Taft
B. James Buchanan 
C. Woodrow Wilson 
D. Grover Cleveland 

8. Which president received every Electoral College vote except one?
A. Gerald Ford
B. James Monroe
C. George W. Bush 
D. Teddy Roosevelt 

9. Which president set a record for the most trips abroad at 133?
A. Bill Clinton 
B. George W. Bush 
C. Ronald Reagan
D. Gerald Ford

10. Who took the first presidential flight?
A. Harry Truman
B. Richard Nixon
C. Franklin Roosevelt 
D. Gerald Ford 

Test your knowledge answers

1. A. Ronald Reagan
2. C. Benjamin Harrison 
3. C. James Madison 
4. B. Andrew Jackson 
5. D. Virginia 
6. A. Richard Nixon 
7. D. Grover Cleveland 
8. B. James Monroe 
9. A. Bill Clinton 
10. C. Franklin Roosevelt