Kids used to crack jokes about the American flag hanging in a Lincoln Middle School computer lab.
Ancient and yellowing, it looked like something from the Civil War, said Skylar Dannhoff, a 14-year-old student.
“If some exchange student came and looked at it, they would have thought it would have been red, yellow and blue,” Dannhoff said. “Not red, white and blue.”
Dannhoff and a few of her classmates set off on a months-long project to replace all the school’s flags.
They were unfurled for the first time this week and have been a welcome addition for teachers and students alike.
Lincoln’s old flags were a “sorrowful sight,” and that was clear to students, said Rick Blasing, school counselor and student council advisor. Especially, he said, each morning for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Many showed signs of age, but there was also inconsistency from classroom to classroom. Some were giant banners, some were closer in size to the mini flags handed out at parades.
“If your flag represents your country, that wasn’t a really good representation,” Dannhoff said.
Students in one music class didn’t even have a flag to say the pledge.
“They kind of just say it to the curtain,” Dannhoff said.
Dannhoff, who is also the student council president, worked with others on the council on a plan to find replacements. At first, they hoped to find new flags by Veterans Day, but grant writing proved to be a lesson in patience.
They applied for a grant from the La Crosse Public Education Foundation, but it took months to get the money. Flags were made in Wisconsin and ordered from local vendor Nelson Flag.
Students in a small business class at Lincoln also made wooden flag mounts, with the word “liberty” etched into each block.
The process gave students a chance to impact Lincoln’s future, “leaving a legacy here to the building,” Blasing said.
The project also served as a lesson in public speaking and persuasive writing, Dannhoff said.
But most important, she said, it made her contemplate the importance of the flag, and to see the honor paid to it by veterans.
“Why do we take the time to put it in every room and talk to it every morning?” Dannhoff said. “Because that flag is, in a sense, our country.”