Flags, Freedom, and the Promise of Education
As I reflect on a summer of domestic and global turmoil that has led to our flags spending almost as much time at half-staff as they have flying high, many students have returned to our classrooms in Riverside County to start the new school year with concerns about the tragic events in Brussels, Nice, Dallas, Baton Rouge, and beyond. They are trying to make sense out of these senseless acts of disregard for human life.
The symbolism of lowering and raising the flags to half-staff serves as a mental reminder that although the nature of the tragedy is poignant and will have a lasting impact on us, it will not debilitate us as a nation. The procedure also confirms the definitive nature of the sovereign freedom which the flag represents. When a flag is to be flown at half-staff, it should be hoisted in the morning all the way to the peak height for a few moments, and then lowered to the mid-way point on the pole. This symbolically affirms that the same freedoms and values of the flag are still permanent and fixed despite the temporary nature of the half-staff proclamation. In other words, the temporal nature of the tragedy will not overshadow the overarching liberty represented day in and day out by the flying of Old Glory.
At sunset, a flag that has been flying at half-staff all day, is to be raised briefly to its peak position before being lowered for the day. This subtlety communicates that even at the end of a day of mourning, the promise of America stands taller than any momentary crisis.
At the front of all schools, an upright pole holds the flag which students ceremoniously salute each day as a symbolic reminder of the freedom they enjoy to pursue their educational dreams. Our schools must strive to provide forums for students to express their ideas, fears, opinions, and dreams-all critical elements for them to recognize how they are part of a brighter future for themselves and their community.
My hope is that you will all join with me in spreading the message that the promise of education is a right that our flag represents for all students-regardless of the tragedies that beset our nation today or in the future.
Have a great 2016-2017 school year!
Kenneth M. Young
Riverside County Superintendent of Schools
Meet the New Riverside County Teachers of the Year
A refugee from Cambodia. A high school teacher who encourages students to find their voice. A technology-infused instructor of sheltered history. A middle school teacher who reaches hearts as often as minds.
From among the 20,000 teachers throughout Riverside County, these four teachers were surprised just before summer began with the news that they had been selected as the 2017 Riverside County Teachers of the Year.
More Than a Graduate and More Than a Teacher
Simoriah Bridgman lived in and out of foster homes since she was two years old. Thanks to the kindness and compassion of her teacher, Renee Estrada, Simoriah not only received her diploma in June, but discovered a "Mi-Ma" for her 2 ½ year old daughter. Read about Simoriah and Renee.
Educators Build Bicycles for Local Foster Children
This summer, employees from the Riverside County Office of Education converted a professional development training into a team-building project to assemble bicycles for foster children in Riverside County. Read more about the project and watch the video recap.
Do You Know a Veteran Who Deserves a High School Diploma?
Do you know someone who abandoned their education to serve their country in the military in Korea, Vietnam, or in World War II? If you do, the Riverside County Board of Education and the Riverside County Department of Veterans' Services would like to honor them with a high school diploma as they have done for more than 300 veterans as part of the annual Operation Recognition Program. Get inspired by previous recipients and find out how to nominate a graduate for this year at www.rcoe.us/operationrecognition.
Lights! Camera! Science!
Future engineers, scientists, inventors, and big thinkers were on display earlier this year with their award-winning projects and research at the annual Science Fair. Meet some of the entrants and watch them share their projects.
Nationally-known authors and speakers, including Tavis Smiley, will join 500+ educators at the Excellence Through Equity Conference
(Sept. 15-16 - Indian Wells)
Recognizing what "works" in education and sharing it with educators across the county with keynote speaker Stephen Ventura
(Oct. 13 - Palm Springs)
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