Students at Arbuckle Elementary School join the ranks of schools across the country who received a gift from the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association in Virginia. This organization has owned and operated Mount Vernon (Washington’s home) since 1858.
On Wednesday, February 20th, Principal Carol Geyer unveiled the gift during the school’s regular Community Sing assembly. A large, framed, official copy of Rembrandt Peale’s “Porthole Portrait” of George Washington will hang in the school’s multipurpose room.
In addition, Principal Geyer was presented with an America flag that once flew over the Mount Vernon estate.
The celebration of George Washington included Kyle Howell, dressed as the Father of our country, sharing the word of the week with the assembly. Betsy Myers, dressed as Martha Washington, stood by his side.
Appropriately, the word of the week was PATRIOTISM. Howell defined the word and gave examples of how children can express patriotism in their daily lives.
The Arbuckle FFA leadership class provided a short skit that reminded students of the freedoms Americans enjoy. Working under the supervision of Mr. George Green, the high school students included Manuel Ambriz, Delaney Cano, Sarah Gwerder, Macey Cox, Judy Duran, and Hilary Brainard. Music teacher, Ron Rector, taught patriotic songs prior to the event and Donna Green led the 1st-5th grade students in singing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and “This Land is Your Land.”
Mrs. Green reminded students that Washington lived at Mount Vernon for more than 45 years, growing more than 60 different crops. He raised sheep, cows, hogs and wheat. She also clarified that Washington did not wear a wig, but powdered his hair. Students learned that the story of George cutting down a cherry tree as a youngster was a fictional story published in the McGuffey Reader, a popular school book for many decades.
His false teeth were also not wooden, but included a cow’s tooth, one of Washington’s own teeth, hippopotamus ivory, metal and springs. Older students studied how Washington served as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and that he loved devising secret codes for war time messages. Even the youngest students know that George Washington became our first President and is one of many symbols for the USA.
During her presentation, Geyer noted that Rembrandt Peale painted more than seventy different portraits of Washington. Between 1780 and the mid 1900’s, portraits of Washington could be found in most libraries, hospitals, banks, and schools all over the country.
The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association not only maintains the museum grounds of Washington’s former home, but provides schools with a “Portrait of Leadership” package that contains background information, lesson plans, and activities related to Washington’s life. Their goal is to provide portraits of Washington in addition to educational materials to schools throughout the country to help students understand that George Washington remains a role model today for citizenship and civic responsibility.
“I was really concerned that the younger students wouldn’t understand how special the portrait is. But when we lifted the drapes and revealed the 24 x 36 inch framed picture of George Washington, the audience all oohed and aahed,” shared Donna Green.
“Students were equally excited about receiving a US flag that once flew over Mount Vernon.” Janet Grimmer, a parent in attendance, mentioned that she and her children would be visiting Mount Vernon this summer.
The assembly concluded with the weekly awards earned by students in Reading Counts and the Math Star recognition programs. The flag salute was led by Martha Washington ( aka Betsy Myers) .
Serena Carlson, a parent attending the assembly, commented , “ I really enjoyed seeing an assembly that honored George Washington. The portrait is really special and I love hearing the students sing patriotic songs.”