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Red Pump students honored for patriotism

While the rain kept them from forming a living American flag outside Tuesday, hundreds of Red Pump Elementary School students were still able to celebrate the flag and their patriotism.

The school was one of three in the state selected by the Baltimore area-based American Flag Foundation to take part in its annual Traveling Living Flag program this year.

Had the weather been clear Tuesday, more than 700 students, faculty and staff would have stood in a grid pattern to form an American flag, and been photographed from an airplane overhead.

Principal Blaine Hawley said the rainy and cloudy weather grounded the aircraft, however. The students did gather in the school's auditorium and hold up a massive American flag.

The American Flag Foundation's program coincided with Red Pump's annual Patriot Program Assembly, when Kindergartners through fifth graders are honored for their completion of the school's Patriot Program.

Hawley said 475 students, out of population of 685, have completed this year's Patriot Program, during which pupils learn about American patriotism and citizenship – parent volunteers administer tests on the program requirements at each grade level.

"This is above and beyond what they do in school," Hawley said. "They choose to participate in this."

Red Pump students also took part in the American Flag Foundation's essay competition, which is open to third through fifth graders – Hawley said Kindergarten through second grade-students also wrote essays and were recognized Tuesday along with the older children.

Fifth grader Grant Sparr was the overall winner of the Phillip S. Haxel Sr. Patriotism Honor Roll Essay Contest. He received a "Baton of Patriotism," along with a plaque, and the opportunity to attend a Baltimore Orioles game in July and be recognized on the field.

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