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Save the Lady by the Sea

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Five student-painted Statues of Liberty await the auction block at Saddlewood Elementary.

She waits, torch held high, welcoming all to our nation. The Statue of Liberty stands as a symbol of freedom and international friendship. The tragedy of 9-11 has kept the statue closed to visitors since that time. School children throughout the United States helped raise funds to build the base of the Statue of Liberty in the 1880's. Now, history is repeating itself with the "Save The Lady By The Sea" project in Marion County.

Saddlewood Elementary students in Suzanne Corbin's, Leslie Wiechens', and Katie McGrath's (National Teacher Hall of Fame member Class of 2003) Fifth grade inclusion classes are participating in a service based project that will join a national effort to raise funds to reopen the Statue of Liberty by July 4th.

A grant, funded by the Public Schools Foundation of Marion County and Citigroup, provided miniature ceramic Statue of Liberty figurines that were decorated by the 50 students. Some of the students in these two classes came to this country last fall. Many others are first-generation Americans. Students expressed their thoughts of freedom and liberty in their designs.

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Fifth-graders Fred Wood and Kaitlynn Malave are all smiles with their own creations of custom-painted statues.

A New York City artist, Thomas Glisson, visited the classes to share his experiences in the restoration of the Statue of Liberty in 1986. Mr. Glisson, an expert in gold-leaf gilding, taught the children about the technique and then helped students apply real gold-leaf to each of their statues.

This interdisciplinary project allowed students to gather historical information through the Internet and research. This information was used by the students to create a PowerPoint presentation. Students also scripted a Public Service Announcement about the project that was shown on the video Morning Show. Students then became Young Authors as they wrote fictional stories about the Statue of Liberty coming to life. These bound books included stories about Lady Liberty taking a shower in Niagara Falls to the Statue of Liberty visiting Abraham Lincoln in Washington, DC.

The completed figurines were displayed in the school Media Center, where the entire school population voted on their favorite Statue of Liberty-one penny per vote. The culminating activity for this project was the "Save The Lady By The Sea" Gala Auction. Members of the community were invited to the school, where the Junior ROTC presented the colors. Members of a local Army National Guard unit, recently returned from Iraq, led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. Students from the two classes presented a medley of patriotic songs. Statues were auctioned off to the highest bidder. It was a moving experience for all involved.

The student artists had a difficult time giving up their statues for the auction, yet they understood that they were contributing to a greater cause. All funds from the auction and the student voting were sent to the Liberty Island Foundation to help reopen the Statue of Liberty. While the students enjoyed all elements of this project, their efforts will have a place in history that they will never forget. The combined total for the student voting and the auction was $1,500.00. One of the statues, "A Soldier's Tribute" (camouflage face, dress draped in red, white and blue — the artist's aunt and uncle are serving in Iraq) was bought for $100.00.

For more information on Sandlewood Elementary School visit www.marion.k12.fl.us/schools/sde.