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It started as a class project in Matthew Susin's American Government class. Now, it's the All-American Flag Act, a bill recently introduced in Tallahassee.

Last year, Eau Gallie High School students were shocked by news reports that most American flags are made in China. Every year, nearly $4 million worth are imported.

"The American flag is the symbol of the U.S.," said Alex Jelus, now a senior. "It's really bad that someone else is making our symbol."

Working with Rep. Ritch Workman students researched how other states addressed the issue - and suggested how Florida could enact a law requiring U.S.-made flags.

Workman, a Republican from Melbourne, introduced the bill last month. If approved, it would require state, county and city agencies to purchase federal and state flags made in the United States.

Now, students are taking it beyond the classroom and volunteering in a grassroots campaign to get the bill passed - andother states involved.

"It starts with Florida," said Tyler Carney, a senior. "Once we get it settled here, we want to expand out."

Facebook, email, word of mouth: Students have been spreading the word, one conversation at time.

Zachary Loeb has taken the effort seriously, striking up discussions with friends and strangers.

While waiting for his SAT tutoring session recently, he sparked a discussion.

And this summer at Wet 'n' Wild, he struck up conversations with tourists while standing in line.

"My goal is to spread the word," said Loeb, a senior at Viera High, where Susin teaches now. "To plant the seeds and watch them grow."

Across the state, Susin's former students are also on board. Grey Dodge, who graduated from Space Coast Jr./Sr., where Susin also taught, is coordinating efforts at the college level to win support.

"It's important to get our age group involved," said Dodge, who plans to graduate from University of Central Florida in May. "Once you're in college, you're of a voting age."

Efforts will continue this spring, when students travel to Tallahassee to lobby lawmakers.

"It's exciting," said Ally Sharrow, a sophomore at Viera who plans on testifying on the bill's behalf. "It's a real opportunity to talk about something that makes a difference."

For Susin, students' volunteer efforts are about putting classroom lessons into action. "It's one more time that they can do something that keeps it going," he said.

The initiative is expanding beyond Florida. When Susin accepted a national teaching award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars this summer, he shared the project - and gained additional support.

"I'm glad they're making the effort," said Ron Greco, commander of VFW Post 4534 in Rockledge. "It's our most coveted thing, the flag."

Already, veterans have sparked interest in similar laws in states such as Mississippi and Washington, Susin said. Already, a similar bill has been filed in Illinois. "It started in that classroom and it expanded," he said.

And that's the broader lesson, said Joshua Brady, a junior at Eau Gallie. "Anything is possible if you put your mind to it," he said.

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