A Broken Allegiance

   When students walked into classrooms the first day, many things appeared the same way they did last year- motivational posters still hung on the walls, the white board still stood in the front of the room, and the teacher’s desk still sat in the corner.
   However, there was one key difference.
   The American Flag.
   As designated by House Bill 4934, all Michigan public schools must give students an opportunity to recite the pledge on a daily basis.
   In addition, Senate Bill 637 requires that an American flag be hung in all classrooms where the pledge is recited.
   According to assistant superintendent Paul DeAngelis, 43 states have adopted this same policy.
   So, how did the nation’s attempt at increased patriotism translate in Seaholm?
   According to a Highlander survey, 96% of students said that they have yet to recite the pledge or see another student recite the pledge during the designated time.
   “Personally I am pretty patriotic, but I think it’s a waste of valuable class time and you should do it at home if you really want to,” sophomore Alex Pederson said.
   While the pledge doesn’t appear to be a meaningful occurrence for today’s Seaholm students, this was not always the case.
   According to a Highlander survey 88% of students said that they remember reciting the pledge in their elementary school classrooms on a daily basis.
   That fact that the pledge was once such an instrumental part of daily activities begs the question.
   What happened?
   According to Principal Dee Barash, the pledge seemed to slip off the radar without much student or staff notice.
   “Even in my school in Ohio, we recited the pledge once a week,” Barash said.
   Barash said that once she arrived from Seaholm, a daily Pledge of Allegiance time was not her first priority.
   “It’s just not something I thought of,” Barash said, “I had other priorities.”
   Like Barash, Pederson said that reciting the pledge should not be on top of a school’s to-do list.
   According to Pederson, the pledge can be recited at home, while school work needs to be prioritized at school.
   With 96% sitting out of reciting the pledge, the administration has decided to let students make a personal decision in respect to the pledge.
   “It’s a sensitive topic and there is a lot that is protected under free speech,” Barash said.
   According to Barash, unlike many other school districts, there have not been any strong reactions for or against the Pledge of Allegiance at Seaholm.
   “I think the reason we don’t get a lot of feedback is because we allow students to make the choice,” Barash said.
   Although the vast majority of students do not want to participate in the pledge, 100% of students surveyed said that they would not look negatively upon those who decide to recite it.
   Senior Kenji Johnson said that Seaholm’s approach to the Pledge of Allegiance is an ideal situation.
   “Yes there should be an opportunity to recite the Pledge of Allegiance,” Johnson said. “It’s our country’s right to, and it shouldn’t be mandatory, but if you choose to you can. If you don’t want to, just respectively stay silent.”

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