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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Shiloh Hills students embody flag that inspired anthem

Spokane Shiloh Hills Elementary School students, donning red, white and blue ponchos, gather Friday to form a living reproduction of the original American flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the “The Star-Spangled Banner.” (Dan Pelle)

Students at Shiloh Hills Elementary School celebrated the 200th anniversary of “The Star-Spangled Banner” last week by making a human reproduction of the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key.

The Great Garrison Flag flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. The flag had 15 stripes and 15 stars. It was huge: At 30 feet by 42 feet, it was “a flag so large that the British would have no difficulty seeing it from a distance,” as Maj. George Armistead, the commander of Fort McHenry, specified when it was sewn.

At Shiloh Hills, students learned just how big that flag was when all 540 of them donned red, white and blue ponchos and stepped into formation on the school grounds Friday.

Brian Maney, music teacher at the school, came up with the idea while researching for the school’s Veterans Day celebrations. American Tradition Homes donated $400 for the ponchos.

Sixth-grade math students helped with the concept, using what they learned in class to set the dimensions and perimeter area.

It took the students and teachers about 45 minutes to get into place to make sure it really looked like a flag. Once they were all in their spots, photographers on the roof of the school and students from Mt. Spokane High School’s video production class flew a drone with a camera overhead.

“You are the Great Garrison Flag that flew over Fort McHenry,” Maney told the students before asking them to remove their hoods, place their hands over their hearts and sing the national anthem.