Jefferson Elementary School teaches students to respect the Flag - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Jefferson Elementary School teaches students to respect and handle the American Flag

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We've been following the story of a school custodian out in Fort Pierre who says he was fired for speaking out about school staff members leaving the flag balled up in the boiler room instead of folding it and giving it the proper respect. 

As a veteran, Cesar Zakahi says the flag is extremely important to him, but it's something he learned back in elementary school. 

Many schools across South Dakota teach their students that respect, including Jefferson Elementary School in Sioux Falls. 

Fourth grade students at the elementary school take turns putting up and taking down the flag each day. 

"We have pieces of paper with groups of three and we change every single day and that chooses who gets to do the flag," said Jefferson fourth grader Cora Siemonsma. 

‘It's a really big honor for them to be able to go out there and handle something that is such a respected symbol of the United States," said third and fourth grade teacher Valerie Johnson. 

It's the same way Zakahi felt when he first learned hot to treat the American flag. 

"It was a big deal if you were the one who got to take the flag up and take it down…it was an honor then as it should be now," said Zakahi. 

Mrs. Johnson teaches an entire unit on the American flag, discussing its meaning, significance and why it should be respected. 

"Until they're really made aware of what it's purpose is and what it symbolizes to us as American citizens, it doesn't have any value, it doesn't have a lot of purpose in their life," said Mrs. Johnson. 

Today her students are experts on flag etiquette.

"You cannot have it touch the ground or it shows disrespect for the country," said Siemonsma. 

"You want to fold it in half like a hot dog and fold it again and then you make a triangle shape," explained fourth graders Sekuoia Green and Ian Rehms. 

It's a skill that will stick with these students for the rest of their lives. 

"It does carry over once it has come meaning to it, once you put meaning to it, it's just kind of stuck there," said Mrs. Johnson. 

It's a great lesson to learn at a young age. Mrs. Johnson said many adults don't fully understand the significance of the flag or how to show it the proper respect. 

Zakahi says it's a good time for everyone to take a refresher course in honoring our nation's greatest symbol.

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