W.Va. principal cancels Pledge, national anthem for a day

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Editor’s note: The Charleston Daily Mail reported Dec. 6 that Principal Clinton Giles revised Capital High School’s policy Dec. 5 so that students are no longer required to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, national anthem or anything else during morning observances. The policy now says students are expected to stand or sit silently during the pledge.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Kanawha County principal canceled the Pledge of Allegiance for a day after several students claimed they were being forced to recite it.

Capital High School Principal Clinton Giles also canceled the national anthem on Dec. 3.

He told news-media outlets that the students’ complaints disturbed him because they misrepresented what the school was doing. So, he canceled the activities for a day.

“What we found, is what I believed would happen — a majority of [students] stood up and said, ‘We want this, Mr. Giles, our day doesn’t begin properly without it,’” Giles said.

Senior Cherry Huynh is among those who support starting the school day with the pledge and the national anthem.

“You know, there are soldiers overseas putting up their lives for us, and I think it is just the respectful thing to do,” Huynh said. “For him to cancel it was ridiculous and unnecessary.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1943 in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette that students cannot be forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance or to salute the American flag in school.

Since 2010, Capital students have been required to stand up during the pledge, whether they recite it or not.

Giles said he implemented the requirement so students who do not recite the pledge do not distract those who participate.

“What we noticed was that we had people who would not sit quietly. They would sit and do homework, work on a computer, horseplay or hold conversation,” Giles said. “There’s no requirement [that students] put their hand over their heart or recite the pledge.”

Sophomore George Lilly said standing up for the pledge should be optional.

“It shouldn’t be all or nothing. People have the right to make a decision and when he does that, when he says you all have to stand, or none of you are going to stand, he takes away that ability to make a choice,” Lilly said.

Giles told the Charleston Daily Mail that the pledge and national anthem returned yesterday.

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