Before forming the living flag, students listen to National Park Service Ranger Vincent Vaise. Ebb Valley Elementary School students in the foreground are, from left: Fenna Hott, Ben Clarke and Caitlyn Linder.
Before forming the living flag, students listen to National Park Service Ranger Vincent Vaise. Ebb Valley Elementary School students in the foreground are, from left: Fenna Hott, Ben Clarke and Caitlyn Linder. (Submitted photo)

More than 6,600 Maryland students, teachers and chaperones donned red, white and blue ponchos last Tuesday, Sept. 9, as part of the largest 15 stars and 15 stripes Star-Spangled Banner Living Flag ever assembled at the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historical Shrine in Baltimore — and about 200 of those participants were from Ebb Valley Elementary School in Manchester.

The event was part of the 200th-anniversary celebration of "The Star-Spangled Banner," our national anthem.


"We were told that students from every county in Maryland would be selected to participate," Cathy DeStefano, fifth-grade teacher from Ebb Valley, wrote in an email. "Sometime in early June we were notified that we were selected. Over the summer teachers attended webinars explaining the field trip and all procedures. When school started back in August we had a little over two weeks to teach the students about the War of 1812 and the history of the writing of 'The Star Spangled Banner.'"

The Ebb Valley Elementary group members traveled by bus from the school to Fort McHenry, arriving there at 8:30 a.m. They got a star-spangled education that included reenactments, trivia questions, music, listening to cannon fire and watching a replica flag of the original Star-Spangled Banner of 1814 get raised over the fort.

The actual assembling of the living flag began around 10:30 a.m. "This process took over an hour and a half, and the students were very patient. The completed flag was an amazing sight! We all felt so proud to be representing our country and showing our patriotism in this unique way," DeStefano wrote.

The ceremony concluded with speeches from Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Governor Martin O'Malley. Everyone then boarded the buses for home and arrived back at school in time for dismissal.

"I thought it was very cool and special when we made the living flag," Erin McPhatter, 10, wrote in an email. "It was worth waiting for and learning for. We made history and that part is very special."

MVHS events

Manchester Valley High School is going to be a busy place Saturday, Sept. 20, with three different organizations coming together to host three events at the school. "Our hope is that we are providing a community event with something for everyone," Anna Warner, MVHS teacher, wrote in an email.

The MVHS Future Farmers of America will be sponsoring a Back on the Farm Day in the front parking area of the school. Activities include a petting zoo, gourd painting, sack races, kiddie corn pool, corn hole games, agricultural demonstrations such as sheep shearing and horse grooming, agriscience learning stations which will consist of hands-on activities and experiments to explore the science behind agriculture, and a tractor show. All of this is free and will be available from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. The contact for this event is Anna Warner, who can be reached at 410-386-1673.

The Manchester Area Merchants Association, in conjunction with the MVHS Future Business Leaders of America, will hold the Second Annual Classic Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show, rain or shine, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on the side parking lot of the school. Preregistration is not required. Registration is $10 per car and will take place from 9 a.m. until noon. Spectator admission is free. Ten trophies will be awarded, as chosen by show participants. One trophy will be awarded as the MAMA favorite. Trophies will be awarded at 2 p.m. Food and drinks will be available for purchase. Proceeds from this event will go to the MAMA scholarship fund, which annually awards two $1,000 scholarships to two MVHS graduating seniors. For more information, contact Guy Garey at 443-929-1558.

The Student Government Association will be hosting a Fall Fest event, starting at 9 a.m. Several different student organizations will have areas/tables with activities, food or products to sell. Visit the left side of the school, where the greenhouse is located, to see what Fall Fest has to offer. For more information, contact Nathan Glass at 410-386-1673.

The school is at 3300 Maple Grove Road, Manchester.

Jill Murphy covers Hampstead, Manchester and neighboring communities in the North Carroll area. She can be reached by email at or by phone at 443-604-8619.