Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
MacArthur Elementary School was named after General Douglas MacArthur.
The school’s mascot changed from the Eagles to the Mustangs in 2016.
The mustang symbolizes Buffalo Soldiers.
The original MacArthur Elementary on Biddle Boulevard opened in August 1955.
The elements of the MacArthur school shield include a mustang, a five-star insignia and the school colors, black and gold.
These are just some of the facts MacArthur Elementary students learned during the school’s Black and Gold Spirit Week May 3-7.
Each day the students learned facts about the school in a special announcement video made by Sarah Morris, MacArthur music teacher; colored themed activity sheets; and participated in themed dress-up days including “Wear Your Stars” on Monday, “Wear Black and Gold Masks” on Tuesday, “Wear Black and Gold Socks” on Wednesday, “Wear Black and Gold Hat Beanies” on Thursday and “MacArthur Spirit Day” on Friday.
“We decided to have this week to teach kids a little bit about the history around General MacArthur, our school colors and mascot. The last year in the old building, I proposed to the board that we change the school colors and mascot of the school with the opening of the new building (in August 2016),” said Tyler Fowler, MacArthur principal. “Previously, we were the MacArthur Golden Eagles with the colors of blue and yellow. Eisenhower is also the Eagles. Playing off of the beginning letter of the school names … we decided to choose the MacArthur Mustangs. One of the reasons for this was to highlight the horses that were used as ‘war horses’ in the military. The colors — black and gold — were chosen as traditional colors of the Army.
“We are hoping students get a sense of community and connection to our school this week,” he said.
Planning the week was a collaborative effort between several faculty members including Tammy Irminger, MacArthur fourth-grade teacher, who said the teachers wanted to find a way for the staff and students to connect with each other following a year dictated by COVID-19 restrictions.
“I think (knowing) why our school was named after General MacArthur serves several purposes. Our students, who are generally only here a year or two, can feel a sense of ownership, pride and connection,” Irminger said. “They travel and move so often that they sometimes just feel ‘temporary.’ Understanding why our school is named after General MacArthur also shows students what hard work and dedication can do. …If it’s important enough to put someone’s name on a public building, it should be important enough to know why. It gives students another reason to study hard and do great things.
“I want the students to feel connected to the school and to each other having learned about their school’s beginnings. I think it’s a powerful lesson in citizenship, history and community,” she said. “When they leave here, they will take that information and that bond with them.”
Students said they learned a lot throughout the week.
“(General MacArthur) was born in Arkansas, he went to West (Point) for school and graduated top of his class,” said 12-year-old Hunter Satterlund, MacArthur sixth-grader. “He played a big, big role about the time of World War II. He played a big part managing like 50,000 people and entire nations.”
Eleven-year-old Sebasitan Cabrera, MacArthur sixth-grader, said “Wear Your Stars” day was his favorite because it helped him remember an important fact about General MacArthur.
“That helped me remember that he was a five-star general,” Cabrera said.
Twelve-year-old Mikayla Hinton, MacArthur sixth-grader, said she was excited to learn about the 1956 time capsule opened at the old MacArthur building in March 2020.
“It had a ton of cool things,” Hinton said. “It’s important to learn these facts (about General MacArthur) because he was a very important person.”