National Medal Winner - Northern Mariana Islands
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PHOTO: Hopes and Dreams by CNMI Class
Northern Mariana Islands Tanapag Elementary School, Saipan


"Our 5th grade class in Saipan, coached by the NMI Teacher of the Year, Barbara Gilles, voted on ‘freedom' to best represent U.S. history in the past and at the end of the 20th century. Individual students wrote what freedom meant to them:

"In America they have freedom because people were willing to risk their lives, their homes and even fight for it. They didn't just give up. Freedom gives us the right to be who we really are. I'm happy and proud of who I am."

"Freedom makes you a whole person...mind, body and spirit. It shows you the pathway to lifelong learning. It even shows you the way to love, especially to love your parents."

"Freedom gives people choices. Freedom is like a big open door for you to love. You must love one another to be free. Now open your big door and love."

"Freedom is the way to a full life. It makes a path in our minds of thinking good things. It allows us to be self-directed, responsible and show our greatness. Freedom makes us who we are, not something we are not."

"I chose freedom because I love learning. Freedom means telling people to stop crime and drugs. Freedom gives us love and education."

"The best thing about me is I am free. My teacher said to me, "what does freedom mean to me?" I looked back in the past and knew that we were slaves. And then I said, "I feel happy to be free."

Together the class closed with, "we choose freedom because it gives us the power to live, learn, and love. Freedom is the best thing everyone has ever had or ever known. It is the #1 idea in our world. We all like freedom, even animals. But we have to learn to use our freedom by making good choices. We all need freedom to learn about famous people and everything that is all around us happening in our world in the past, present and future."

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