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In a ceremony attended by more than 300 people at the Delaware Public Archives building in Dover on Dec. 10, 2016, Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock presented awards celebrating participants in the Fifteenth Delaware Day Fourth Grade Competition. More than 1,000 students from 19 schools across the state contributed to the program in 2016.
Delaware Day commemorates the anniversary of Delaware becoming the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution on Dec. 7, 1787. Six months later, on June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document thereby providing the two-thirds majority of the states needed to establish the Constitution as the law of the land.
Sponsored annually by Delaware’s secretary of state, the Fourth Grade Competition encourages students to study the Constitution and to discover Delaware’s role in its writing and ratification. Students’ observations are presented in a four-panel display format that incorporates prose, artwork, songs and political cartoons. Each display is reviewed for historical accuracy, spelling and creativity.
Specific questions for this year’s competition required students to study Article V which provides a process for amending the Constitution, and subsequent amendments which expanded voting privileges. Students were also asked to share their views about the importance of voting as an act of citizenship.
Bullock kicked off the 2016 competition in a Sept. 27 event at North Star Elementary School in Hockessin where he participated with students in a competition on the Constitution entitled “Are You Smarter than a Fourth Grader.”
Nearly three months later at the awards ceremony, Bullock noted “Delaware Day is our time to celebrate just how important our state was in the early days of the nation. … As always, the projects our fourth graders presented were outstanding tributes to this legacy, and I congratulate them for their efforts and the time they devoted to learning about the history of the First State.”
Each of the competition’s winning schools is recognized with a Signer’s Award named for one of Delaware’s five signatories of the U.S. Constitution. The Signer’s Awards for the 2016 competition are the George Read Award to Wilmington Friends School; the Gunning Bedford, Jr. Award (tie) to Bunker Hill Elementary School in Middletown and Gallaher Elementary School in Newark; the John Dickinson Award (tie) to North Dover Elementary School and Lake Forest Central Elementary School in Felton; the Richard Bassett Award to North Laurel Elementary School; and the Jacob Broom Award to the Learning Express Academy in Newark.
Honorable-mention awards were presented to Bancroft, Booker T. Washington, Carrie Downie, Leasure, Long Neck, McVey, North Star and Wilson elementary schools; the Islamic Academy of Delaware; and Christ the Teacher, Epworth Christian and Newark Charter schools.
Artistic Merit Awards, reviewed by the Delaware Division of the Arts with assistance from the Newark Arts Alliance, were also announced during the ceremony. These awards recognized projects whose overall visual design and impact, composition, cohesiveness and originality represented artistic excellence. Schools honored in this category were Bunker Hill, Gallaher and North Dover elementary schools; Epworth Christian School; and the Learning Express Academy. Honorable-mention awards in the Artistic Merit category were presented to Christ the Teacher, Newark Charter, North Laurel Elementary and Wilmington Friends schools.
The 2016 Delaware Day Student Competition was planned and organized by Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ historian and National Register coordinator Madeline Dunn in consultation with representatives of Delaware’s departments of State and Education. Division historians Bev Laing and Carlton Hall assisted in evaluating the competing projects.