Students from across the state gathered on Jan. 13, 2018 at the Delaware Public Archives building in Dover to celebrate the winners of the 16th annual Delaware Day Fourth Grade Competition and to be recognized for their knowledge of the First State’s influential role in crafting the U.S. Constitution. The Delaware Day competition ceremony was originally scheduled to take place in early December, but was postponed due to inclement weather.

Detail from North Laurel Elementary School’s Project B. The project received Honorable Mention awards in the overall competition and for artistic merit.

Delaware Day commemorates the anniversary of Delaware becoming the first state to ratify the 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 it as the law of the land.

More than 1,100 students from 22 schools were given two months to prepare informative displays illustrating Delaware’s role in the creation and ratification of the Constitution, integrating creative elements such as artwork, poetry, songs and cartoons. This year’s competition featured 35 separate entries, the most in the program’s history. More than 13,500 students have participated in the competition since it was initiated in 2001.

“Delaware Day is our time to celebrate just how important our state was in the early days of the nation,” said Secretary of State Jeff Bullock. “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.”Delaware Day logoEach year, Signer’s Awards are presented to schools with the most creative and historically accurate projects. Named in honor of Delaware’s five signers of the U. S. Constitution, the awards recognize schools in each county plus the city of Wilmington as well as a private school. Representatives from the Department of State, including the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, judged the projects focusing on three main areas: historical accuracy, spelling and creativity.

The Signer’s Awards for the 2017 competition are the George Read Award to Eastside Charter School in Wilmington; the Gunning Bedford, Jr. Award (tie) to Gallaher and Keene elementary schools, both in Newark; the John Dickinson Award to North Dover Elementary School; the Richard Bassett Award to North Laurel Elementary School; and the Jacob Broom Award (four-way tie) to Epworth Christian School in Laurel, Christ the Teacher Catholic School in Glasgow, the Learning Express Academy in Newark; and Wilmington Friends School.

Honorable Mention awards were presented to Brader, Bunker Hill, Booker T. Washington, Lake Forest Central (two projects), Leasure (two projects), Marshall, McVey, Mt. Pleasant (four projects), North Laurel (two projects) and Shields (four projects) elementary schools; the Islamic Academy of Delaware; MOT (three projects) and Odyssey (two projects) charter schools; and Ursuline Academy.

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 Elementary School in Middletown, Epworth Christian School in Laurel, Gallaher Elementary School in Newark, North Dover Elementary School and North Laurel Elementary School. Honorable Mention awards in the Artistic Merit category were presented to Keene, North Laurel (Project B) and Shields (Project A) elementary schools; and Eastside Charter and Wilmington Friends schools.