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Kids Get School Named for Obama



Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
Social Studies
--Current Events
----U.S. History


Grades 2-up

News Content

After Barack Obama was elected president, kids campaigned successfully to have their school renamed.

Anticipation Guide

Write Hempstead, New York on a board or chart. On a map, identify the location of Hempstead. It is located on Long Island (Nassau County), about 25 miles east of New York City. If you teach older students, challenge them to use the map key to determine how far Hempstead is from their community.

News Words

Introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: campaign, essay, represents, diverse, mock, and unveiled. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • The new cookbook includes recipes from a _____ cross-section of cultures. (diverse)
  • The candidates for mayor will _____ for your vote during the six weeks that remain before Election Day. (campaign)
  • A new statue of western hero Wyatt Earp was ____ last month in Tombstone, Arizona. (unveiled)
  • Each of the stars on the U.S. flag ____ one of our nations 50 states. (represents)
  • As an art project, each of us were asked to create a _____ advertisement for the new Shrek movie. (mock)
  • Students were asked to write a 200-word ____ about someone they think of as a hero. (essay)

    Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Kids Get School Named for Obama.

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

    Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

    Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

    Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

    Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • Students at Ludlum Elementary School in Hempstead, New York, were excited that Barack Obama had made history by becoming the first African-American U.S. president. They began to wonder if they might be able to rename their school in honor of the history-making president-elect. But first they would have to convince the communitys school board members, who are elected to make decisions about their schools.
  • At a meeting of the board, students presented essays theyd written. Samantha Alburez, age 10, said that Barack Obama represents our diverse nation and so does our school."
  • We are living in history," said Jalani Johnson, age 10. We should mark his name down in history by having a school named after him."
  • After the students and other members of the community gave speeches in support of the renaming, the five board members voted. All agreed that renaming the school was a good idea. Their resolution stated:
    Whereas the Ludlum School students conducted a mock presidential debate related to the recent presidential elections and
    Whereas the students did a wonderful job of carrying out their tasks and demonstrating their patriotism at an early age and
    Whereas in recognition of their efforts and the victorious feat of Sen. Barack Obama in becoming the first African-American president of the United States,
    it be resolved that the Hempstead Board of Education proudly renames Ludlum Elementary School as the Barack Obama Elementary School."
  • The school is not far from Hofstra University, which was the site of the last of three presidential debates between Obama and Sen. John McCain. Around that time, the fifth grade class at the school held a mock presidential debate. Teonte Jackson played the role of Barack Obama in the debate. Jalani Johnson played his running mate, Joe Biden.
  • Our school is going to be the first in America to be named Barack Obama Elementary school!" fifth-grader Teonte Jackson told WCBS News. I feel proud." (Watch the WCBS News report.)
  • Jalani Johnson told Time for Kids, Barack Obama is a great leader and we're a great school, so the name suits us."
  • Like Obama's campaign, the plan to rename a Hempstead school after the president-elect was a remarkable grassroots approach," Joseph Laria, the districts superintendent of schools, told Long Islands newspaper, Newsday.
  • You want to talk about Yes we can! [Obamas campaign slogan]? This was a lesson in democracy," Laria told ABC News.
  • Obama Elementary School -- formerly Ludlum Elementary -- was built in the 1920s. It was named after Dr. Charles Ludlum, a local physician who served on the school board for about 40 years.
  • Hempsteads elementary school is not the only place being named for Obama. Proposals to rename schools are on the table in Valley Stream (Long Island) and Portland, Oregon. According to the Miami Herald, the city council in Opa-locka, Florida, is considering naming a street after Obama. And Winston Baldwin Spencer, prime minister of the Caribbean country of Antigua and Barbuda, has proposed renaming Antigua's highest mountain peak as Mount Obama.

    Comprehension Check

    Recalling Detail

  • What was the name of the kids school before it was renamed after president-elect Barack Obama? (Ludlum Elementary School)
  • How many students attend Obama Elementary? (466 students)
  • How many of the five school board members voted in favor of the plan to rename the school? (all five of them)
  • When will a special ceremony be held to make the name official and unveil the new school sign? (February 2009)
  • Why do students hope Governor Paterson will attend the ceremony? (Paterson is the first African-American governor of their state; and he graduated from the communitys high school.)

    Follow-Up Activities

    Language arts critical thinking. Challenge students to respond in writing to the Think About the News question on their printed news story page. If you would like to pose an alternative thinking question, you might ask this question: Some people say that we should not name schools, streets, and other things for Barack Obama until we see what he accomplishes as president. Others say he has already accomplished a great deal by becoming the first African-American to be elected president. What do you think? Are these recognitions well deserved, or is it too early to honor Obama in this way?

    History. All your students are aware that Barack Obama made history by being the first African-American to be elected president of the United States. Share with students some of these other African-American Firsts (alternate source), some of which might bring up unfamiliar names. Challenge each student to learn more about one of these famous African-Americans. Set aside time for students to share what they learn. Extension activity: Create a timeline of African-American firsts.

    Spelling. A quick and fun activity: Write the name BARACK OBAMA on a board or chart. Give students 5-10 minutes to write all the words they can spell using the letters in Obamas name. Words that students offer might include abba, am, arc, ark, arm, aroma, ba, baa, back, bam, bar, barb, bark, boa, boar, bob, bomb, bra, cab, cam, car, caramba, carb, cob, cobra, coma, comb, cork, crab, cram, croak, kabob, karma, ma, macro, mako, mar, maraca, mark, mob, mock, oak, oar, okra, orb, orca, rack, ram, roam, rob, rock, and rom. Variation: If you teach younger students, you might make the task a bit easier by letting them use the letters in the words BARACK OBAMA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.


    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News questions on the news story page or in the Follow-Up Activities section.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.3 Evaluation Strategies
    NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills
    NL-ENG.K-12.6 Applying Knowledge
    NL-ENG.K-12.8 Developing Research Skills
    NL-ENG.K-12.9 Multicultural Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.11 Participating in Society
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    GRADES K - 4
    NSS-C.K-4.2 Values and Principles of Democracy
    NSS-C.K-4.3 Principles of Democracy
    NSS-C.K-4.5 Roles of the Citizen

    GRADES 5 - 8
    NSS-C.5-8.1 Civic Life, Politics, and Government
    NSS-C.5-8.2 Foundations of the American Political System
    NSS-C.5-8.3 Principles of Democracy
    NSS-C.5-8.5 Roles of the Citizen
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NSS-C.9-12.1 Civic Life, Politics, and Government
    NSS-C.9-12.2 Foundations of the Political System
    NSS-C.9-12.3 Principles of Democracy
    NSS-C.9-12.5 Roles of the Citizen

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography
    GRADES K - 12
    NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms

    GRADES K - 4
    NSS-USH.K-4.3 The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage
    GRADES 5 - 12
    NSS-USH.5-12.10 Era 10: Contemporary United States (1968 to the Present)

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Ellen Delisio and Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2008 Education World