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Publish Date: 9/15/2005

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From left: Third-grade students Maggie Spitzer, Jade Glover, Ismael Cuvas and Thomas Kusbel sing the national anthem Wednesday at St. John the Baptist Catholic School as part of the second annual National Anthem Project. The Music Educator’s National Conference coordinated the effort to have students across the nation simultaneously sing the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Times-Call/Kristin Goode

Oh, say can you sing
Project brings awareness of national anthem to students


LONGMONT — Three local schools participated Wednesday in the National Anthem Project, a nationwide campaign to get more Americans singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and to highlight the importance of music education.

The national campaign, now in its second year, was begun by the Music Educators National Conference after a recent Harris poll showed that two out of three Americans don’t know all the words of the national anthem.

“That’s just not acceptable,” said Julie Thorp, a music teacher at St. John the Baptist Catholic School.

St. John’s joined hundreds of other schools across the country whose students agreed to sing the national anthem at 9 a.m.

Erie and Prairie Ridge elementaries also participated, but the principals said students would sing the song later Wednesday because of a delayed start scheduled at those schools.

Erie Elementary principal Keith Liddle said his school traditionally has sung the anthem at the start of each school day and was happy to be a part of the national campaign.

Prairie Ridge music teacher Marcia Hall and St. John’s principal Mary Cronley said this is the first time the schools have participated in the project.

Sept. 14 commemorates the day that lawyer and poet Francis Scott Key penned the anthem after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore by British ships during the War of 1812.

It became well-known as a patriotic song sung to the tune of a popular song of English origin, “To Anacreon in Heaven.”

“The Star-Spangled Banner” was made the national anthem by a Congressional resolution March 3, 1931.

“This is an effort to teach the anthem to students at a young age so they can know it for years to come,” Thorp said.

The Harris poll found that of those who correctly answered questions about the national anthem, 58 percent had received at least five years of music in schools growing up.

Hall said the campaign will not only teach children about flag etiquette and “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but also perhaps adults at home who are a little lacking in their U.S. history.

“We’re a country rich in heritage,” Hall said. “And if we don’t teach students that history and where they came from, it’s a huge mistake. This is something that has a fabulous story, and it’s a wonderful thing to be proud of.”

Melanie M. Sidwell can be reached at 303-684-5274, or by e-mail at msidwell@times-call.com.

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