As a part of his Student Outreach Services, the Supervisor of Elections, members of his staff, and volunteers have put together a historical presentation geared to our students, the future of America. Their intent: to bring history to life, and demonstrate the sacrifices made in our early years that have shaped our country. This provocative and interactive demonstration is packed with surprises and promises to be enjoyed by youths of all ages.
On Thursday 9/24/09, at the invitation of Mrs. Tina Wood, U.S. History Instructor at L.A. Ainger Middle School, the Charlotte County Supervisor of Elections, Hon. Paul A. Stamoulis and his band of characters surprised students and instructors alike. The school was celebrating Freedom Week, so the messages of democracy and voting, our Founding Fathers, and the significant contributions of several important characters from history, resonated with the lessons being taught.
The day started with CTV's (the student-run TV channel) Will and Garrett asking everyone to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. They went on to discuss the schools celebration of Freedom Week by reading the Preamble of the Constitution. This was a fitting start to the day, as the homeroom classes prepared to set out on their long workday.
There were six (6) periods throughout the day. In each period there were two, three or four classes that ventured in for the surprises brought to them by the Supervisor of Elections and his cast of historical characters, staff and the volunteers who came to bring history to life.
US History Instructors, Mrs. Tina Wood and Dr. Paul Cleveland were joined by Social Studies Instructors, Mrs. James, and Mrs. Chamberlin; Exploratory Instructor, Mrs. Salazar and ESE Instructor, Mrs. Cerebone, to witness American History coming to life. Sixth to eighth graders enjoyed presentations starting with Paul describing democracy's roots, leading into our very first American President and beyond. Paul asked the audience, “Wouldn’t it be great to be able to talk to George Washington and find out what was on his mind?”
The cast of characters started with The Father of our Country (Frank Sturges) who incidentally was the only president to be elected unanimously. General Washington spoke of the battles and events leading to his election as the first President of the United States. A commissioned officer, Lieutenant Colonel Washington was shot at, lost two horses shot out from beneath him, and led his troops through some of the country's most difficult times. Elected Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army by the Second Continental Congress, Washington, along with his ill-trained troops, embarked upon a war that would last six grueling years. Losing battles, narrowly escaping then striking unexpectedly to gain a victory, was the approach taken that would eventually lead to the forced surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. George Washington led his troops toward victory under adverse conditions, many times without proper food, clothing, shoes, funds or ammunition, but with the spirit it took to persevere!
He was followed by Thomas Jefferson (Doug Tucker) who appeared with a quill, a copy of the Declaration of Independence and a map of the Louisiana Purchase, (the territory aquired from Napoleon in 1803, virtually doubling the size of the US), several of the significant contributions he made to American history. Thomas Jefferson was a powerful advocate of liberty and eloquent correspondent, who may be best known for being the head of the committee of five, that wrote the Declaration of Independence. He was only 33 years old at the time. From a well-to-do family, his father a surveyor, and his mother a Randolph, gave him high social standing. He attended the College of William and Mary, where he studied law, and where he gained a passion for books, and education. On land he inherited from his father, Jefferson built Monticello. He served in many posts and two terms as President of the United States but among the three things he wanted to be best known for was as the Father of the University of Virginia. "He conceived it, planned it, designed it, and supervised both its construction and the hiring of faculty." Thomas Jefferson died at Monticello, on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
Next Betsy Ross
(Diane Verdon) arrived with Old Glory in hand. She described her place in history and how The Stars and Stripes
came to be.
General George Washington and Betsy Ross
viewing Old Glory in all of her splendor!
According to patriotic legend, Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag at the request of George Washington. Betsy spoke of her marriage to John Ross an Anglican that resulted in her expultion from her native Quaker church. She was a Philadelphia seamstress and upholsterer who was carrying on her husband's upholstery business after he was killed in the American Revolution. Mrs. Ross described the symbolism behind what we know as our most powerful symbol of liberty and freedom. The flag consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes (red top and bottom) alternating with white, a blue rectangle in the canton bearing the thirteen white (5-pointed) stars. "She is supposed also to have suggested the use of the five-rather than the six-pointed star chosen by Washington." The thirteen stars were placed in a circle reflecting the equal importance of each of the thirteen colonies, no one colony being placed above another. “White signifies Purity and Innocence; Red, Hardiness and Valor; and Blue, Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice.”
Continuing on, Ben Franklin (Lou Spacco) appeared with his signature glasses and tales of the many contributions made throughout his long life. "Benjamin Franklin ... commercially successful, ever concerned and involved with the public good, a great communicator, and a remarkable man of science and technology, finding practical effective solutions to real problems." A most colorful contributor, Ben shared of his days in America, his travels abroad, his writings and inventions, and of course the fact that he is one of the original signators on the Declaration of Independence, representing the state of Pennsylvania.
Autographed Gettysburg Address -
one of the many speeches President Lincoln
is credited with giving
Soon after Ben departed, our sixteenth President, Mr.Abraham Lincoln
(Stan Kubik) arrived. The very tall and slim gentleman, with his tall hat, was recognized by all, as he began to spin his stories from Civil-War times
. Known for many things, President Lincoln worked diligently, his entire career, to achieve peace and freedom. On January 1, 1863, he issued theEmancipation Proclamation
that declared forever-free those slaves within the Confederacy. Abe Lincoln was one of only four (4) American Presidents to be assassinated while in office.
The session wrapped up with a visit from Lady Liberty(Randy Ann Bechtel) who came off her pedestal on Liberty Island for the first time in 123 years. She requested that she be able to lower her torch and clear her throat, given that this was the first time she had been able to speak since being given as a gift of friendship by the people of France.
The Statute of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886 and is known as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. Lady Liberty recited some of the most compelling words ever heard: ...“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” ("The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus). Several of the students requested to have their pictures taken with Lady Liberty, and hoped to be able to hold her torch as well. Not wanting to disappoint, Lady Liberty graciously accepted the offers and posed in all of her patina grandeur.
The Hon. Paul A. Stamoulis brought each session to a close by speaking with the students about the importance of registering, once they become eligible, and of voting. He reminded them that they are the future leaders of our great country, and drove home the idea that each of these colorful historical figures played an integral role in the shaping of America, as we know it today. “I hope that by bringing to life some of these great American icons, our future leaders will embrace the importance of their contributions and the sacrifices they made to make it possible to live in a free and democratic society.”
At the conclusion of each session, individual classes were photographed with the entire cast, their teacher and the Supervisor of Elections. A wonderful, thought provoking and imaginative day was enjoyed by all of the volunteers, SOE staff, faculty and students as they saw history come alive before their very eyes!