Longview Elementary students defend their honor during ribbon weeks
Riverview Junior High PTSA students paint cardboard as they created a cardboard fortress for Longview Elementary’s red and white ribbon week. (Petra Winegar/Riverview Junior High)
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A 6-foot tall by 77-foot long replica of the old Roman fortress modeled after one in Brugg, Switzerland was erected in Longview Elementary’s multi-purpose room for a week to allow a hands-on learning opportunity for students to learn to defend their honor.
“Defend my honor” was the theme of Longview’s white and red ribbon week, Feb. 6-10.
“We combined internet safety with protecting themselves from harmful substances during the week and added in the theme of the Romans, who were known to eat and live healthy and believed in getting enough sleep,” Parent-Teacher Association Jeannette Bowen said. “We hope the theme helps them realize they need to keep themselves away from harmful substances and from harmful things found on the internet.”
Bowen said students also received tools on how to be safe, such as discussion topics to talk about with their parents, such as setting limits online, walking away from unhealthy situations and having fun without drugs, alcohol or harmful websites.
“We hope this will open the door for parents to have these discussions with their kids,” she said.
Third-grader Vivian Baxter understood the importance of the week.
“Red and white ribbon week means we should defend our honor and everything we stand for,” she said.
Second-grader Kennedy Madsen said that defend meant to fight it off, or if “you see something bad on the internet, you should stay away and tell someone.”
Her favorite part of the fortress she was defending was to try out the homemade beds while third-grader Hannah Bowen liked the actual books in the castle library.
Second-grader Royal Rugh, liked being a knight.
“By being a knight, I can defend this fortress and be safe,” he said.
After eating lunch, students could enter the fortress to read stories from homemade books about the Roman history or alphabet, pretend to cook themselves a healthy snack on the stove and eat it at the kitchen table, take a short nap on a bed or put on their helmets and take a shield to defend their honor. There also was a chariot where students could have their photo taken.
All the items were made from 1,130 feet of recycled cardboard and 1,400 feet of duct tape by 25 junior high Parent-Teacher-Student Association students during a 14-day period.
“The students spent 240 hours building this so it could sustain 400-plus students playing in it,” said Petra Winegar, who is Riverview Junior High’s PTSA student service coordinator. “Many of the students who built this used to go to Longview, so it means a lot to them.”
Winegar, who visited the Switzerland castle and talked to its officials, got the idea to create the fortress over the past summer. She sought donations of cardboard from RC Willey and other area businesses. Home Depot also gave Riverview students $100 toward the project.
“From the onset, we spent two or three days talking about what we were going to build before splitting into teams to construct it. My dad was an architect, so he taught me a lot about how cardboard works and how not to disrupt the grain, but to cut and shape it how it wants to bend,” she said.
One team worked on the walls of the castle; another wrote and created books and the library; a third team created the kitchen, from the stove to the silverware, and another created the bedroom chambers with two beds. An armory team created 35 shields and, with the help of Murray School District media center specialist Jeanette Marx, designed and bent helmets into shape. She also said the students had support from their principal and shop teacher John Johnston.
Riverview student Elizabeth Myers said that he had fun creating the fortress project.
“One thing I loved about being a part of this project was that I was able to build some pretty amazing things — and just out of cardboard,” she said. “Not only was I able to help in a great service project, I was able to work with friends and other great people as well.”
Classmate Nicc Winegar said he likes building things.
“It was nice to see how we started out with nothing and it ended up being something awesome,” he said.
Winegar said it was more than just building the fortress.
“By the time they were finished, they were so proud of themselves and of each other. There is no greater honor for adults, than when children invite them in. Our goal at the PTA is to inspire and motivate by providing a platform for our students to discover greatness and talents from within. Our service projects are designed to promote community spirit, team work and a sense of accomplishment. Of course, with a dosage of fun and crazy,” she said.
Winegar said that each team had a lead and they directed students.
“Two volunteers, Stephanie Gold and Anna Watne, and I just went about helping the students. It’s been a fantastic experience, she said, adding that she’d love to see another elementary school use this fortress.
For the students, like kindergartener Brayden Chadburn, it didn’t matter that the junior high students used five gallons of paint and 150 sticks of hot glue, it was about having the opportunity to have a castle in his school’s multi-purpose room.
“I like that I can play in the fortress,” he said.