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CRS students Zoom with Sen. Rausch

Sen. Rausch took time to speak with Charles River School students about the Massachusetts state flag.

This fall and winter, as Charles River School (CRS) first and second graders learned about community and identity, they thought deeply about what it means to be from Massachusetts. From the land itself to myriad world contributions of our state’s citizens, CRS students explored the shared experiences of all Bay Staters.

They became experts on the state flag of Massachusetts, learning about its symbols and their meanings, and comparing the flag to the other state flags in New England as well as to the flags of the Wampanoag and Mohawk Nations. With this groundwork, CRS’ grades one/two teaching team turned the conversation to considering others’ perspectives and points-of-view, and directly discussed what Native Americans might think about the Massachusetts flag. After watching a video from WGBH of a Wampanoag man being interviewed about the flag, the students quickly determined that the flag is unjust towards Native Americans and that it needs to be changed. So, they got to work.

On January 15, during a school-wide “Action Day” in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., teachers unveiled a project for their first and second graders to each design a new state flag. They thought back to their lessons and conversations about what matters most to them about Massachusetts, and drew on their understanding of symbols to represent ideas and beliefs. With this knowledge, they either kept aspects of the current flag while changing others, or they totally reimagined the flag.

The following week, one of the grade one/two cohorts learned that Massachusetts’ state government had recently approved legislation to form a committee to change the flag. Students connected with local State Senator Rebecca Rausch of Needham (a co-sponsor of this bill) to present their ideas to her and ask her questions about what it’s like to be a leader in the community. Recently, Senator Rausch joined all Charles River School first and second graders via Zoom to hear their ideas. From peace and unity to kindness and chocolate chip cookies (which were invented here in Massachusetts), Senator Rausch left with lots of ideas from CRS students about what should be on the flag.

The students, staff and parents of CRS were very thankful to Senator Rausch for her time and partnership. Students left their Zoom meeting filled with hope and inspiration to help make sure the state’s flag represents all of its citizens.

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