DOINews: NPS: LBJ National Historical Park, Head Start Students Celebrate Christmas at Ranch

Last edited 09/05/2019

Park ranger reading to group of children at the LBJ ranch.
National Park Service ranger Patrick Pelarski reads to a group of Head Start children at the LBJ Ranch. Photo by Diane Kirkendall, NPS, appears on the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park's Facebook page.

Continuing a tradition that started nearly 50 years ago, 34 students from the Stonewall Head Start School helped decorate a Christmas tree at the LBJ Ranch on Monday, Dec. 15.

Staff and volunteers from Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park hosted the students and assisted with making handmade ornaments. Before decorating the tree, park rangers Patrick Pelarski and Diane Kirkendall read Christmas stories and sang carols with the students.

The Head Start program was created in 1965 as one of President Lyndon Johnson's “War on Poverty” programs. These programs were an essential part of his Great Society initiative, which sought to end poverty and inequality, protect the environment, and rejuvenate cities. The aim of the Head Start program was to help preschool-aged children from low-income families with child-development programs.

Head Start prepared children for entering grade school on par with their peers. Lady Bird Johnson served as the honorary chairwoman of the National Head Start program during the Johnson presidency.

Following the presidency, the Johnsons remained active in the program through the Stonewall Head Start School, which at that time was located near his home at the LBJ Ranch. President Johnson was affectionately known to the children as “Mr. Jellybean” because he would pass out jellybeans whenever he came to visit the school.

The Johnsons also invited students out to the LBJ Ranch around Christmas time to decorate a tree at the president's reconstructed birthplace. Today, children decorate a tree located inside the historic airplane hangar building, which serves as a visitor center for the LBJ Ranch.

Nationally, Head Start has served more than 30 million children since its creation. In 2015, Head Start will mark its 50th anniversary.

Overall, Johnson was responsible for more than 1,000 pieces of legislation during his presidency, including the Voting Rights Act, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Housing and Urban Development Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act, the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act, the Highway Beautification Act, and many others.

President Johnson was also responsible for the creation of nearly 50 units of the National Park Service. During this 50th anniversary of the Johnson presidency, 1963-1969, these parks will help celebrate the legacy of our 36th president, Lyndon B. Johnson. Head Start and these national parks are just a small example of President Johnson's legislative legacy that continues to this day.

Submitted By: Charlotte McDaniel

Dec. 30, 2014

Related Links:

NPS-The Morning Report
NPS-LBJ National Historical Park

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