Who is better positioned to
understand that than a first-grader?
So it was that, when Anabelle O'Malley's first grade class at
Mount Pleasant Elementary School heard that the nickname 'The
First State' isn't official, they decided it was high time to do
something about it.
After all, that
designation has been emblazoned on license plates for several
years. It also shows up in a variety of other contexts and has
become part and parcel of life in the -- where else? -- First
What's more, it is something
that we -- or our forebears -- earned. They got together
way back in December, 1787, to ratify the new U.S. Constitution.
For all of five days, until Pennsylvania decided to come along,
we were not only the first, we were only state.
When the class decided not to settle for a nickname that, despite
all its historic significance, is unofficial, the class realized
it has a bit of political clout to back up its resolve.
Olivia Smith is a member and her dad, Wayne Smith, just happens
to be majority leader of the state House of Representatives. In
fact, it was during his show-and-tell what-daddy-does kind of
visit to the class that the situation came to light.
He informed them about a section in the Delaware Code -- that
is, the state law book -- which makes things official. It
includes the state seal, the state flag and the state song. Also
to be found there are the official state tree (the American
holly), the official state bug (the lady bug), the official
state fish (the weakfish), the official state butterfly (the
tiger swallowtail) and the official state bird (the blue hen
chicken, of course).
Soon to be there,
if legislation officially introduced by Representative Smith and
co-sponsored by Senators Cathy Cloutier and David Sokola passes,
is the official state nickname, 'The First State'.
But the class is not taking anything for granted. They've
learned that if you want something to happen, you have to work
for it. In the political process, that's what the grownups call
The class is building
support for their idea by writing to other first grades around
the state. If at least some of those classes pass the word to
other legislators, that's something the grownups call creating a
Smith's bill comes up for debate and discussion in the General
Assembly in March, the class will be there on a field trip. And
they've been promised the privilege of the floor to let their
views be known.
the word will go forth that, after 214 years and a couple of
months, Delaware is officially the First State.