Raise the flag

— Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Teresa Wood It's a tradition at Northeast Hamilton Elementary School to "Gather Around the Flag" for the first day of school on Thursday in Blairsburg. Supt. Mike Kruger greeted students and staff and the Fifth and Sixth Grade students lead the assembly in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing the "Star Spangled Banner.”

BLAIRSBURG – Northeast Hamilton Elementary School students and staff held their traditional “Gather Around the Flag” ceremony on Thursday morning to mark the first day of the 2018-2019 school year in Blairsburg.

Superintendent Mike Kruger welcomed the students on a brisk, sunny morning to the south side of the school building where school board members and district patrons gathered to help usher in another year at the Pre-K – Sixth Grade facility. Kruger first initiated the ceremony when he was named principal/assistant superintendent in 2014. He became school superintendent/principal on July 1.

The school conducts the flag ceremony at the beginning of each school year to help students remember what a unique opportunity it is to receive an education, said Kruger.

“We show our respect to our flag because it is a symbol of freedom,” Kruger said.

Freedom offers American children the opportunity to receive an education and to learn, which will better their lives, he said.

“Many boys and girls around the world are not so lucky,” Kruger told the students.

Last year, students returned to school to witness the unveiling of a new playground, Kruger noted. This year, students will find the addition of a school greenhouse and STEM classroom.

“We have great kids at Northeast Hamilton,” Kruger told the assembly. “They are very respectful and very responsible”.

Kruger encouraged the students to continue to practice those traits, not just in the classroom, but throughout their daily activities in the halls of the school, on the playground and at home.

“Make the most out of this year,” Kruger encouraged the students.

Kruger introduced new staff member Cody Crouch, the school’s head custodian/bus driver, who was given the honor to raise the flags. Crouch replaces Paul Christensen, who retired as NEH Custodian on Aug. 10 after 20 years of service. Christensen will continue as an on-call substitute beginning in January 2019.

Following the raising of the Stars and Stripes and the State of Iowa flag, the Fifth and Sixth Grade students lead the assembly in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing “The Star Spangled Banner.”

“Have a great year and welcome back,” Kruger told students as they headed to their new classrooms.