For more than a month now, there’s been controversy at South Portland High School in Maine over how they announce the Pledge of Allegiance. Three student body leaders, while reading the morning announcements, were reminding their classmates that they didn’t have to participate by asking students to recite the Pledge “if you’d like to”:
At the time, the principal put a stop to it because, he said, it was going against protocol, but the students (with the principal’s support) went to the school board to request a revision to the policy.
As of today, their efforts appear to have been successful. They won’t get to say those magical four words, but a sort-of compromise was reached:
Principal Ryan Caron said Wednesday that 11 of 12 departments have voted to approve the new procedure and he expected the remaining department to make the tally unanimous before the end of the school day.
Caron said senior class President Lily SanGiovanni would likely adopt the new pledge procedure Thursday morning, when she would say over the intercom, “I now invite you to rise and join me for the Pledge of Allegiance.”
Okay, so saying “I now invite you” is better than saying “I now order you,” as the Portland Press Herald article suggests, but it still implies that standing for the Pledge is a given. If I didn’t know about this controversy, I wouldn’t think anything changed. These are words that will just go through most students’ ears in a way that “if you’d like to” did not.
That said, the student handbook next year will explicitly say that students do not have to participate in the ritual if they don’t want to. It’ll also be covered during student orientation next year. That is a much bigger deal, I would say, than the revised prelude to the Pledge.
Huge congratulations to Lily SanGiovanni, Morrigan Turner, and Gaby Ferrell for making it happen.
(Image via Shutterstock)