FLAG CEREMONY. Children assemble outside their house in Liwayway village to recite the patriotic oath as part of the daily flag-raising ceremony. Since Monday, children have been joining the traditional flag-raising ceremony from their respective houses by listening to loudspeakers attached in coconut trees. (Photo courtesy of Liwayway Elementary School)
MACARTHUR, Leyte – Even without face-to-face classes, Grade 4 learner Machelle Mediona gets up early, prepares for her home schooling, wears her uniform, and stands up in their front yard to join the daily flag-raising ceremony using the public address system in this town’s farming village.
The nine-year-old kid said attending the 15-minute ceremony has been motivating her to answer self-learning modules and activity sheets at the terrace of their house in Liwayway, a rice-producing community, eight kilometers away from the town center.
“Starting my day with a prayer and singing the national anthem makes me feel that it’s like a regular school day,” said Machelle, whose dream is to become a teacher someday.
Her grandmother, Marife, 48, said it is good to see children alert every morning as they join the traditional flag-raising ceremony from their respective houses by listening to loudspeakers attached on coconut trees.
Recently, community officials of Liwayway set up the public address system to update villagers about the coronavirus disease pandemic. Since October 5, these eight loudspeakers have been used by teachers to inform parents about the “new normal” learning.
“Every morning, my four school-age grandchildren always ask me to help them prepare their uniforms so they could join the flag ceremony on time,” said Marife, whose weekly task is to pick up and submit modules for 33 children in their neighborhood.
Jim Anthony Morfe, one of the teachers of Liwayway Elementary School, said they have to play the prayer, national anthem, and patriotic oath during weekdays for children to nurture love and respect for the country even if they are not physically present in schools.
The 15-minute ceremony also plays the Department of Education (DepEd)-Leyte hymn, the local government hymn, and music for some exercise. This is for 191 kindergarten to Grade 6 learners.
“Every time we play the national anthem at 7:30 in the morning, all people in the entire village stop to honor the flag. It also signals the start of another school day,” said Morfe, the teacher assigned to play the audio at the village hall.
The village has a population of about 2,000 people.
Due to movement restrictions, only teachers are allowed to attend the flag-raising ceremony in the campus.
DepEd Eastern Visayas regional information officer Jasmin Calzita has encouraged schools to think of ways on how to involve children in flag-raising ceremonies using virtual and other means.
“Using the public address system is a good initiative. For areas with a better internet connection, children can virtually participate in the flag-raising ceremony,” Calzita said in a text message.
Liwayway village chief Edmundo Mentes said the community has been very supportive of the new normal learning by strictly imposing the “no karaoke singing policy” during weekdays so as not to distract home-based learning.
“Children are not allowed to roam around the village from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays because they are supposed to devote that time for studies,” Mentes added.
The education department lauded the different initiatives in the Eastern Visayas region to ensure uninterrupted learning during the health crisis.
Earlier, DepEd asked the heads of the region’s more than 4,171 public schools to come up with their learning continuity plan amid the coronavirus pandemic. (PNA)