Lady Liberty visits AlabasterPublished 3:02pm Wednesday, September 18, 2013
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
Hundreds of Thompson Intermediate School fifth-graders waving American flags chanted “Liberty, liberty” at the top of their lungs as the Statue of Liberty came to life in the school’s gymnasium on Sept. 18.
“Liberty and freedom are vital to the success of our nation, our state and our city,” Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers told the kids shortly before Lady Liberty took the stage. “You all will be our next great Americans.”
Lady Liberty visited the school as part of the Liberty Learning Foundation’s Next Great Americans tour, which travels to schools across the nation each year.
During the program, Rachel Rainwater, a member of the Next Great Americans tour, dressed as the Statue of Liberty and explained the history behind the iconic statue.
“If you come to New York City to see me, I will be much larger than I am now,” Rainwater told the kids.
The kids gasped and laughed as Rainwater told them the Statue of Liberty wears the equivalent of a size 879 shoe, has 8-foot-long fingers and features more than 300 steps leading from the ground to the statue’s crown.
Rainwater explained the Statue of Liberty was built in Paris, France, and was assembled there before it was broken into pieces and shipped to America. The statue was erected in New York Harbor on Oct. 28, 1886.
Rainwater also explained the statue’s status as a symbol of the United States, and described early immigrants’ reactions when they first saw the statue when arriving at Ellis Island.
“As they would come by my island, they would gather on the ship deck,” Rainwater said. “Some would clap and cheer, and some would cry because they knew their long journey was over.”
Through the Next Great Americans program, the TIS students will break into “Torch Teams” over the next few months to honor those they believe are “Super Citizens.” Each group will present their Super Citizen, which could be anyone from a military veteran to a teacher, with a small Statue of Liberty replica statue containing an actual piece of the real statue.
Alabama Power Company sponsored the event and also donated funds for project kits for 18 classrooms.