White House asks New Hampshire 4th-graders to name its hawk

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Some New Hampshire fourth-graders whose effort to name the red-tailed hawk the official state raptor was defeated at the statehouse are aiming a little higher: the White House.

A red-tailed hawk recently took up residence on the grounds of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., and the White House said in a Wednesday blog posting it needs a name.

"And we know just the people to suggest one," the blog reads.

So, the students at Lincoln Akerman School in Hampton Falls will have the honor of naming the first hawk. A moniker is expected by the end of this week.

Students study New Hampshire history in fourth grade and often work with a state legislator to bring a measure to the floor, leading in recent years to the naming of a state dog, amphibian, insect, fruit and vegetable.

The Akerman students gained national attention in March when some lawmakers mocked their hawk bill as frivolous. One state representative invoked the abortion debate, noting the hawk rips its prey limb from limb and would make a better mascot for Planned Parenthood.

The White House noted how the Akerman students, who created "Live Free and Fly" T-shirts for the occasion, had made national news in their effort to move the legislation.

"While New Hampshire is still without an official raptor, the students learned a more important lesson - one that goes beyond how a bill becomes a law," the White House said.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, congratulated the kids and said she was looking forward to learning the hawk's name.

"Persistence pays off, and recognition for your cause can come in unexpected ways," she said. "By asking these Granite State students to name the red-tailed hawk, the White House is sending them a message that their civic engagement matters."

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