Shannon Weber is shown working with children at Illinois Day Friday at Edwardsville Township Park. (Photos by Dan Brannan)

EDWARDSVILLE - The smiling faces of children brighten up Edwardsville Township Park each May for Illinois Day.

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The 2016 edition of Illinois Day on Friday morning for Edwardsville School District 7 third-graders was no different as the kids were exposed to a variety of stations with an abundance of educational opportunities.

Shannon Weber, a teacher in the district, has been one of the leaders of Illinois Day through the years. She said the day is wonderful for the students.

“It is the only opportunity to have all the third-graders in the district get together,” she said. “We start at 9:45 in the morning with our first station and then at 12:30 p.m. all the kids gather for lunch. We load the buses at 1 o’clock and get back to their buildings.”

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The stations provide a variety of activities from storytelling, information about Illinois artifacts, games, meeting with farmers and animals. Madison County Transit, Lewis and Clark Camp Dubois and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville students all participate. Sing-a-longs and information about Native Americans in the region capture the kids’ attention during the morning.

Edwardsville School District Elementary Education Director Tara Wells said she once brought her students here when she was a third-grade teacher. Now, she helps to oversee the event.

“This is one of those experiences that kids don’t forget,” Wells said. “The kids have so many memories with their friends. There are so many parent volunteers that come out and help with this day. We couldn’t do this without our volunteers.”

Wells closed by saying: “It is a great extension of the third-grade curriculum and provides many students opportunities they might not otherwise get - to experience the history and culture of Illinois.”

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