, Derry, New Hampshire


May 9, 2013

It's officially time to stop

It’s time to let Derry Village School fourth- and fifth-graders have the official last word.

Those students are understandably bursting with pride this week after the state Senate passed House Bill 535 on a voice vote and approved making the white potato the official state vegetable.

The bill had its beginnings with this year’s fifth-graders, who were inspired to lobby for the potato after a trip to the Statehouse last year. This year’s fourth-grade class joined the cause and a group of local House members guided the bill through both chambers.

Now it awaits Gov. Maggie Hassan’s signature, an event the schoolchildren hope to witness firsthand.

It’s a laudable effort, particularly given Derry’s claim to being the site of the first white potato grown in the New World.

The children have followed the bill through the legislative process, marking each step on a paper on their classroom door. There’s little doubt they well understand how an idea becomes law in the Granite State.

They followed the footsteps of students at Broken Ground School in Concord, who in 1977 worked to get the ladybug declared New Hampshire’s official state insect.

Then there was the two-year effort by high-school students in the mid-1980s to have the spotted newt named the official state amphibian.

Seventh-graders in Bedford successfully lobbied to have the Chinook become the state’s official dog.

Harrisville students were responsible for the pumpkin being tabbed the state’s official fruit in 2006.

In 2010, some Jaffrey elementary students inspired a local lawmaker to push for apple cider as the state’s official drink. They, too, were successful, but not before a heated battle with dairy supporters who preferred milk.

The list continues, although not all through the efforts of schoolchildren. Plenty of adults, too, have pushed for their favorite official state symbol.

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