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MES to sing national anthem at Wichita hockey game

Staff writer

A yet-to-be determined number of Marion Elementary School students will caravan to Wichita Nov. 22 to sing the National Anthem at a Wichita Thunder hockey game, after which they are encouraged to stay and watch the game for free.

Principal Justin Wasmuth announced the news to his faculty first but elected not to inform the entire student body at once to curb any mass displays of excitement.

“It’s not the type of thing you want 270 kids to all think that they’re all attending all at once,” Wasmuth said.

He sent a letter home to parents to explain that students might participate if parents elect to go along and purchase a game ticket.

He wasn’t sure how the Thunder officials heard about Marion’s choir, but thought they might have attained their information through the reading program the school participates in that is sponsored by the hockey team.

K-4 grade vocal music instructor Anita Hancock plans to direct students to sing “The Star Spangled Banner” the original way it was written.

“I teach students to sing the national anthem in the correct, traditional way without a lot of the ornamentation you hear sometimes,” she said. “I also like to teach students the history of how Francis Scott Key wrote it.”

Last year, Hancock received a letter from Ella Lehl Frederick, a former English teacher with grandchildren who attend USD 408, expressing her appreciation for the way Hancock taught the song to students.

The letter also included a clipping from the opinion section of the Wichita Eagle that referenced a letter to the editor.

“I agree with the person who dislikes our national anthem being sung with ‘personal flair,’ ” Lehl wrote in December of 2013. “At a recent Marion High School basketball game, the Marion Elementary School children sang it beautifully, exactly as written. Thanks to the music teacher, who taught them to sing it properly.”

Wasmuth said rural schools are often overlooked on extracurricular opportunities such as their date with the Wichita Thunder because their distant proximity to the team.

“We want students to understand that this is a privilege to be proud of and take it with respect because it is not something that happens every day,” he said.

Last modified Nov. 6, 2014

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