Barge spoke during the school’s Constitution Day celebration Sept. 17. Students were dressed for the occasion in crafted hats and patriotic garb, with some waving flags.
The superintendent, along with teachers, visitors and special guests, were entertained by patriotic music by the fifth-grade students on recorders, and voices from the school’s chorus, led by music teacher Holly Robbins.
Second-grade teacher Darien Carruth took the initiative to invite the state school superintendent to speak on Constitution Day. That stroke of inspiration landed him the honor of introducing Barge at the event.
“The Constitution is one of the most impressive documents ever written,” Barge told the students, “and it deserves our study and attention.”
“Education,” he said, “makes life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness possible.”
Barge called the country’s education system “the greatest education system in the world, because we teach all children.”
He used examples of his own childhood to inspire the students on how to overcome obstacles.
In some areas, he would not have been able to go to school because his family was poor, Barge said.
“When I was in elementary school, things were not very good at home,” Barge said.
“We were poor, ate free lunch — but I knew I wanted a better life.”
He realized at an early age that getting an education was the only way to get a better life.
“I call education ‘the great equalizer,’” Barge explained.
Barge told the elementary students the decisions and choices they make even now will make a difference in their lives.
“You can choose to do well in school, get your education and you can do just about anything you want to do if you work hard,” stressed Barge.
An entourage of special guests filled the Mason Creek Elementary School gym to hear the state school superintendent’s message.
Mary Sue Murray, retired administrator with Douglas County Schools and 13th Congressional District state school board member, was present along with Douglas County School Superintendent Gordon Pritz, Douglas County school board members Janet Kelley and Sam Haskell, school system administrators Pam Nail, George Chip, Cathy Swanger and County Commission Chairman Tom Worthan.
The holiday, formerly known as Citizenship Day, was created in 2004 as part of the Omnibus Spending Bill.
The bill requires that all publicly funded educational institutions provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on that day.
In May 2005, the U.S. Department of Education announced the enactment of this law and that it would apply to any school receiving federal funds of any kind.