GEORGETOWN — Weary of a mock king's orders to repeatedly sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star until it reached perfection, young girls and boys gradually began to leave their chairs to symbolically venture into the New World.
It was in the New World, a different part of the basement at Gano Baptist Church, the children found games and food. And having escaped tyranny, they were finally permitted to laugh.
This was the start of Vacation Liberty School, a five-day program designed to teach about the country's beginnings and the founding fathers.
It was created by a group called 9/12, which is just over a year old and was founded by political commentator Glenn Beck. Several 9/12 chapters plan to hold Vacation Liberty School, said Lisa Abler, the school coordinator, but Monday Georgetown became the first in the country to be up and running. The 9/12 project is named for the day after Sept. 11, 2001 when Americans were united, not divided along party lines, Abler said.
Any child ages 10 to 15 can participate. The school is free, although donations are accepted. The 30 students participating Monday were invited to return for 2½ hours each day this week. Others are invited to join at any time during the week.
9/12 is a non-political and non-partisan group, said Abler, a member of the Georgetown chapter. She said many members have been upset about the state of the country for years.
The Georgetown chapter meets once a month to discuss the nine principles and 12 values of the group.
The values include honesty, reverence, hope and thrift. The principles — including "America is good" and "I believe in God and He is the center of my life" — are listed on the group's Web site with supporting quotes from the founding fathers.
There are 11 9/12 chapters with about 2,000 members in Kentucky, said state executive director Eric Wilson, who also portrayed the tyrannical king who started off the program.
Monday night's lessons focused on early America. One activity involving bubbles and water guns was used to demonstrate the power of personal property.
The activity was followed by a lecture about how many of the early colonists starved to death after arriving in the New World because everything was shared under what lecturer Tim Fairfield described as a communist system. The deaths from starvation ended after families were given their own land and possessions, said Fairfield, who dressed in brown period costume, complete with hat and boots.
The participants earned "nuggets," the official currency of Vacation Liberty School, to use in a general store on popcorn, snacks and balloons. The store is designed to teach basic economic principles.
Laura Levy, 11, of Georgetown said she was excited about the week.
"I would like to get more details about the country's founding," Laura said. "School can only give you so much. I think it's good to go beyond."
Laura's mother, Shari, said she read about the school on the Internet and thought it would give her daughter an opportunity to gain a broader understanding about the origins of the country.
Another parent, Jennifer Porter, who also participates in Kentucky 9/12, said schools don't teach much material from before the Civil War. She wanted her sons, ages 12 and 13, to have a "better appreciation for our real history."
Abler said plans are already under way for Vacation Liberty School in other states, including New York and Ohio. She said the adults participating in the Georgetown school have also learned more about the country.
"I think the country is ripe for it," Abler said. "People are seeking programs like this, and especially programs to help youth."