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Dimock girl's flag to be on display in Washington, D.C.

Sammi Murtha, a sixth-grader at Parkston Elementary School, designed this flag for South Dakota Youth Art Month. It was chosen as the best among 30 flags throughout the state to be recognized at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C., Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of S.D. Youth Art Month)

A Parkston Elementary sixth-grader is packing her bags and going to Washington, D.C., to take part in a national ceremony honoring student designers of state flags in celebration of Youth Art Month.

Sammi Murtha, of Dimock, along with her mother, father and aunt, will fly out of Omaha on Monday to attend the National Youth Art Month Ceremony at the Rayburn House Office Building, Gold Room, on Wednesday.

Youth Art Month is an annual observance to emphasize the value of and encourage support for quality art education for all children in the United States. It is observed in March, with thousands of American schools participating, often with the involvement of local art museums and civic organizations.

Youth Art Month is a celebration of student art from kindergarten through the 12th grade.

The main nationwide component of Youth Art Month is a competition called School Flags Across America ... Flying High.

As part of the competition, each state Youth Art Month chairperson selects a theme that is representative of that state and of the spirit of Youth Art Month, and students design flags around that theme.

The winning design from each state is then made into an actual flag, and the 50 student-designed flags are displayed throughout Washington, following an opening ceremony held the first week of March to commemorate the start of Youth Art Month.

The winning students and their families are invited to attend this opening ceremony and the flags are displayed throughout the city in March, and then displayed at the Youth Art Month booth at the annual convention of the National Art Education Association.

Murtha's design was selected from approximately 30 entries from around the state.

At the ceremony, each state flag is displayed and the name of the student flag designer, their art teacher and state YAM chair/co-chairs are announced.

If the flag designer is present, the designer comes forward and is presented with a certificate and is photographed with the flag. The National Youth Art Month Office invites each state's senators and representatives to attend the ceremony.

Parkson School District helped raise $1,700 to send Murtha to the ceremony through T-shirt sales and designated days for students to dress up in special ways if they contributed $1 toward the fund. Murtha also composed a letter to send to organizations to help finance the trip through donations. Her family also helped fund the trip.

The Murthas will stay a few days in Washington. Sammi's aunt, who lived in the area for many years, will go along on the trip to act as a private tour guide for the family. The family will return Saturday.