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Local schools commemorate Magna Carta anniversary

Students work on projects tied to Influential document 800 years later

By , Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter
Published:
3 Photos
Savanna Falkner, a student at Vancouver School of Arts and Academics, uses an iPad earlier this month to show a classmate how she will paint a shield representing William de Lanvallei, an English baron during the 13th century.
Savanna Falkner, a student at Vancouver School of Arts and Academics, uses an iPad earlier this month to show a classmate how she will paint a shield representing William de Lanvallei, an English baron during the 13th century. Photo Gallery

What: Magna Carta Observance.

When: noon, June 20.

Where: Vancouver Barracks Bandstand, opposite Officers Row.

Read the entire

Magna Carta at www.bl.uk/magna-carta/articles/magna-carta-english-translation

In a busy season of anniversaries marking events that happened 35, 40, 50, 70, 100 and even 150 years ago, some Clark County students are reaching even further back to note a historic milestone.

They’re going back 800 years.

On June 15, 1215, King John of England put his seal to the Magna Carta, the foundational declaration of rights and liberties.

Local students have used paintbrushes or keyboards to participate in projects sponsored by the Clark County Magna Carta Observance Committee.

Even though it is 800 years old, “the Magna Carta affects almost every single person living in the free world today,” wrote Colin Newton, a student at Columbia River High School in Hazel Dell.

What: Magna Carta Observance.

When: noon, June 20.

Where: Vancouver Barracks Bandstand, opposite Officers Row.

Newton is among essayists at 20 local high schools who reflected on how the civil and political liberties established in 1215 shaped the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Earlier this month, several students at Vancouver School of Arts and Academics were at work on some visual aspects of the topic. They were painting wooden shields with coats of arms representing about 20 of the English barons who challenged King John.

The shields will be part of the presentation on June 20 at a local ceremony at the Vancouver Barracks bandstand. The event is hosted by Edmund Stone of the Portland classical music radio station KQAC 89.9 FM.

The young artists included Savanna Falkner, who was doing some preliminary work with a pencil before the painting started.

“The challenge is getting it right,” she said while carefully sketching out the shape of a golden lion that highlighted the red shield of William de Lanvallei. It caught her eye, Falkner said, because there is a similar crest on her mother’s side of the family tree.

Brittani Hanni also was working in gold and red as she painted the design representing Robert de Vere, the earl of Oxford.

Crystal Zeller, art teacher at Vancouver School of Arts and Academics, said that the Magna Carta shields are among the optional enrichment projects available for her students in grades seven through 12.

“It’s painting on a different format than canvas,” Zeller said.

But what makes the Magna Carta (Latin for “Great Charter”) worth commemorating in 2015 is its role in shaping the rule of law. “The Magna Carta was the beginning of so much,” said Ron Rasmussen Jr., one of the local committee members. “This magnificent heritage has been handed down to Commonwealth countries and the United States.”

The committee has awarded $500 prizes to the winning essayist at each of the 20 participating high schools. It was an out-of-class project, but one high school had about 30 participants, committee member Dennis Short said.

Several winning essays posted on the committee’s website discuss the impact of the Magna Carta. It compelled King John “to follow the same mandates as his subjects,” wrote Alyssa Peterson of Cedar Tree Classical Christian School in Ridgefield. “Equality became law. Upon creation of our country, equality … carried over and established our foundation.”

Sydney Burres of Camas High School wrote that the Magna Carta has given her the opportunity to do things previously thought impossible for women.

“I receive a quality education, I can get a career and I even wrestle for my high school. Without the equal rights inspired by the Magna Carta, my life would be drastically limited.”

Establishing equal rights still is a work in progress, Rasmussen noted.

“For democracy movements struggling around the world, the Magna Carta is their shining example, as well.”

Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter
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