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Flag flies from Mount Vernon to Norton

6/6/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Ariel Hakim

Photo: Ariel Hakim
NORTON — Last summer, Danielle Perella-Dutton, Social Studies teacher at Norton High School (NHS), spent a week at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate in Virginia learning about the many facets of the first president’s life.

As a result, a flag that flew over Mount Vernon for a day, as well as a portrait of Washington, now hangs in the Panther Room at NHS. The items were presented by NHS Principal Ryan Shanor at the school district’s Board of Education meeting May 20, shown above.

The flag and portrait were a gift from the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, which owns and maintains the estate, on the condition they would be displayed, said Perella-Dutton.

The portrait is one of the most famous ones of Washington, painted by American artist Rembrandt Peale, she said.

Her trip was a professional development opportunity, funded by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, during which she and 40 other teachers from all over the country learned about Washington’s life while staying on the grounds of the estate. In addition to his roles as revolutionary general and Founding Father, Washington was a slaveholder, farmer, husband and distiller, she said.

Perella-Dutton said when she teaches her students about Washington, she draws on her experience at Mount Vernon.

“It was so long ago, they feel very removed. The key, I think, is for them to make some connection with him,” she said.

His role in the formation of the American identity, how he was able to change and grow from seeing himself as British to American, is one example, she said.

He was also committed to the foundation of the country, she added.

Perella-Dutton said Washington was so popular he could have been president for as long as he wanted. But after two terms, he stepped down for the sake of building his country, she said.

— By Ariel Hakim

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