October 11, 2004 – Posted at 4:27 p.m. CDT
JONESBORO -- Some people are enjoying a three-day weekend today because of the observance of Columbus Day. But is anyone really sure why we celebrate the life of the Italian explorer?
For students at Philadelphia Elementary, today was another day, but a little bit more special. A corndog lunch wasn't served on plates Monday, but rather in plastic boats as a way to learn about Christopher Columbus. But just what do students really know?
Fifth grader Ashlyn Webb said, "He was born in Geneva, more than 500 years ago."
"His dream came true when he was 14 and on October 12," said fifth grader Jamanuel Manning.
Fourth grader Ryan Lee Sylvia said, "He originally started out as a cabin boy and worked his way up until he was a captain."
"He sailed across the ocean, and discovered America," said first grader Sierra Tribbett-Collins.
"He went to lots of kings and queens and tried to get them to buy him ships," said third grader Sydney Driscoll.
Second grader Avery Green said, "The king and queen wouldn't pay him to sail because they thought he would fall off the edge of the earth."
And those boats that he came over on?
Third grader Adam Stephens had the answer. "The Pinta, the Nina and the Santa Maria," recited Stephens.
First grader Luke Hinson knew which boat sank, "I think I know which one broke, it was the Pinta Maria."
But when did Columbus sail across the ocean blue?
Second grader Lauren Smith thought long and hard and came up with, "I don't know."
"1496," guessed fifth grader Shawn Watson.
"1942, I mean 1992," guessed fourth grader Cameron Robinson.
Fifth grader Ashlyn Webb said, "1462."
Fourth grader Ryan Lee Sylvia said, "He came to America in 1952."
Tane Johnson and his second grade classmate Avery Green knew the correct answer. "He sailed in 1492!"
And if Columbus hadn't come to America?
"We probably wouldn't have any clothes," said Manning.
Watson said, "We would have to hunt for our food."
But one lesson easily learned...
"America is a good place to be," said second grader Lauren Smith.