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Blandford welcomes the world through its flags
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With flags from a variety of countries adorning the commons area, Blandford Elementary School has taken on a United Nations flair. - photo by Photo by Paul Floeckher

A vibrant addition to the Blandford Elementary commons area represents the school’s diverse student body.

Displayed above the hallways are the flags of 14 countries from which BES students hail.

“I think it just made them feel a lot more at home and welcome here,” said Stacy Mincey, who teaches Blandford’s students who do not speak English as their first language.

BES has 43 students identified as English-learners – the program commonly known as ESOL (English for speakers of other languages). Blandford Elementary has the highest percentage of ESOL students among Effingham County schools, according to principal Harriett Snooks.

The school purchased flags of countries represented in the student body and hung them in the commons area. Additional flags will be added if students from other countries enroll at BES, Snooks said.

The United States flag is at the center of the display. Old Glory is flanked on one side by the flags from Vietnam, India, Cuba, Brazil, Romania, Honduras and China, and on the other by the flags from Germany, Portugal, Russia, Trinidad, Mexico, Sweden and Japan.

“All of these are places our students are actually from, or their family is from there and still has close ties,” Mincey said. “They were really excited about it.”

One country well-represented among the Blandford student body is Portugal, thanks to Portuguese company EFACEC’s transformer factory in Effingham. Mincey recounted the reaction one of those students had to seeing Portugal’s flag displayed in the center of the school.

“She said, ‘That’s my flag!’” Mincey said.