Bath Elementary School student Layla Suggs (left) represents New Mexico in the school’s first parade of states as Fiella Johnson, dressed as President Andrew Jackson, pulls her float representing South Carolina. The fifth-grade class floats may be seen again Sunday afternoon in Bath’s Christmas parade. (WDN Photo/Mona Moore)

Archived Story

PHOTOS: Presidents revisited at Bath ES

Published 6:07pm Friday, November 30, 2012

President Richard M. Nixon sat down to tea with President Theodore Roosevelt Friday afternoon then listened to an address from George W. Bush.
Shortly thereafter, President Ronald Reagan was elected as the “Best President of All Time.” Witnessing her shooting earlier that afternoon pushed her election over the top.
Bath Elementary School’s fifth grade class culminated weeks of study into a presidential tea and parade Friday afternoon.
Over the course of the last few weeks, students had written persuasive essays to win the honor of studying the states they wanted to write about. They then constructed parade floats representing them.
For the second part of the assignment, students formed teams consisting of a president, campaign manager and page. Teams created campaign materials and actively campaigned at Friday’s tea. The tea was followed by an election.
Fifth grade teachers Michele Wilson, Terry Ussery and Heather VanStaalduinen organized the event. Wilson suggested the tea after holding a similar event at her previous school.
“For three years, she said, ‘We have to do a presidential tea.’ We love her and we’re so blessed to have her here at Bath,” said Pam Hodges, school principal.
Wilson said the project combined language arts, math and social studies. There was also a lot of art and creativity at work. Students paraded 66 floats representing the states they had studied that ran the gamut in size and scope.
Cade Wallace pulled a covered wagon driven by an Amish doll and filled with Hershey’s chocolate for the state of Pennsylvania. Needless to say, he was well liked by parade-watchers who left with candy.
Nate VanStaalduinen proudly represented Alabama with homage to the University of Alabama, crops grown in the state and “Sweet Home, Alabama” blasting from a hidden CD player. He got fist bumps and pats on the back from fans of the team.
“I picked Alabama because my papa went to Alabama,” he said.
Bryson Thomas and his dad spent two weeks on his float for the state of Texas. He said his dad welded the bleachers and field goals for his Dallas Cowboy stadium.
Alyssa Wilson had some help with her float. She and her family made flags that represented each of Montana’s Native American nations.
“We had a competition of who could do the best flag,” she said.
At Friday’s tea, campaign managers introduced their candidates for best president, pages assisted candidates and presidents gave speeches about what made them the best.
Grace Armstrong had a plethora of facts and stories about Grover Cleveland.
“He had a pet raccoon and he loved it and he would dress it up and stuff,” she said shortly before the parade.
Armstrong also told a story about a bet Cleveland once made.
MacKenzie “Nixon” Rouse had an uphill battle. She opted to include lesser-known tidbits of the president. Apparently, he yelled at his staff, loved Poker and was scared to death of pigeons. On the upside, he did create the Environmental Protection Agency and end the Vietnam War, Rouse said.
John Morgan, a George W. Bush impersonator, announced the election results after having observed the event from Florida via an online video call.
“It’s very exciting,” Morgan said during the event. “It’s a wonderful way to teach history.”
Before revealing he was not the real W., Morgan gave students sage advice and a few laughs.
Team George Washington came in second place. Morgan complimented Carter Boyd on his costume’s attention to detail.
Team Reagan came in first place. Jade Smith was Reagan and Nate VanStaalduinen was her campaign manager.
Morgan had a few words for Jaden Briley. As the team’s page, he reenacted Reagan’s shooting during her speech.
“You shot the president, man,” he told Briley. “That’s what I call a ‘page’ right out of history.”

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