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Valley students deliver inspirational words on patriotism



More than 50 students representing fifth through eighth grades competed in the district-level competition in April.

PEORIA, Ariz. — A recent speech showcase of elementary-aged students in the Peoria Unified School District served as a reminder of what unites Americans more than divides them.

More than 50 students representing fifth through eighth grades competed in the district-level competition in April. Four students took home first-place ribbons: Beckett Heapy of Peoria Traditional, Grace Kary of Copperwood Elementary, Joseph Garcia of Oakwood Elementary, and Jirisha Shaji of Marshall Ranch Elementary. Their speeches can be viewed here.

“The strong-willed, determined people of the 13 colonies, they wanted a better future for their children, and grandchildren. This is patriotism,” said Garcia.

The students gave 3-5 minute persuasive speeches based on various prompts about American history and patriotism.

“The essence of America, what truly unites us is not ethnicity, nationality, or religion. It is an idea,” said Itzayana Castellanos of Cheyenne Elementary.

They delivered eloquent advice about how Americans can show patriotism, from simple acts to large gestures.

Brama Koroma of Ira Murphy Elementary discussed the importance of the pledge of allegiance and respecting the flag. Ruby Garcia of Sky View Elementary said patriotism is about thinking locally. “You can volunteer at schools, shelters, libraries or you can even donate stuff,” Garcia said.

“It is a call to action. It is about embracing diversity, standing up for justice, and working together to build a brighter future,” said Elle Dossett of Foothills Elementary.

Hailey Black of Sunset Heights called for more civility and respect. One recent survey by the University of Chicago and the Wall Street Journal shows tolerance for others, deemed very important by 80% of Americans four years ago, has fallen to 58%.

“Patriotism is loving and supporting one’s country, honoring and respecting the people in it, treating people the way we want to be treated,” Black said.

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