Leave it to an imaginative group of Greensboro elementary school students to strike a blow against baked-in partisanship.
It all began at Brooks Global Studies magnet school, where social studies teacher John Phillips challenged the 63 students in his three classes to suggest new state symbols. As the News & Record’s Cindy Loman recently reported, their research led to two suggestions: that the state cookie should be the Moravian cookie, and that the state battleship should be the USS North Carolina. The students studied how bills become laws, and then they sent letters to state lawmakers with their suggestions.
Both ideas found a warm reception in the state House and bills were drafted. The cookie bill cites, in addition to the cookies themselves, the heritage of the Moravian community and the impact of cookie sales on Winston-Salem’s economy and tourism industry.
Among the cookie bill’s primary co-sponsors are a pair of Guilford County lawmakers, Reps. Ashton Clemmons, a Democrat, and Jon Hardister, a Republican, and Forsyth County Republican Donny Lambeth. The students watched on Facebook Live as the cookie bill was introduced on the floor of the House. Both bills were approved and are now headed to the Senate Rules and Operations Committee.
“Having students involved in the legislative and civic process is great for North Carolina,” Hardister said in a news release. “It is an excellent experience for students, and it shows that anyone can influence our democratic process.”
It helps that the cookie bill that the students’ suggestion is a natural fit. Nearly all Moravian spice cookies are made in North Carolina, as Brooks student Logan Buckley told legislators in his letter.
They “date back to the 18th century when settlers from the European kingdom of Moravia journeyed to America and founded the town of Salem in 1766,” another student, Caleb Palmer, said in his letter.
Frank Vagnone, president and chief executive of Old Salem Museum and Gardens, agreed.
“Without a doubt, (the bill) makes perfect sense given the Moravian cookie found a home in Old Salem when the Moravians settled here in 1766,” Vagnone told BH Media’s Richard Craver. “It is a very distinctly North Carolina product, so, by embracing the Moravian cookie as a state symbol, you are a unique part of North Carolina’s history.”
Old Salem’s Winkler Bakery and Dewey’s Bakery are among venues in Winston-Salem that sell Moravian cookies. So does Mrs. Hanes’ Home-Made Moravian Cookies in Davidson County.
As for those that come from somewhere else? Well, we’d be suspicious.
“If the bill passes, we’ll certainly plan to incorporate that in our marketing efforts,” Scott Livengood, owner and chief executive of Dewey’s Bakery, told BH Media.
Meanwhile, many, more serious matters stand before the legislature, and precious few of them will find this much bipartisan support. To be sure, cookies are hardly a divisive issue. But there is room on the legislative floor to find more common ground on tougher questions, and for more focus on doing what it best for the state rather than what best serves partisan ideology. Maybe our lawmakers should start each session with a plateful of Moravian cookies and glasses of milk.