A group of staff members at University High School (UHS) is currently working to implement the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance as a weekly practice in accordance to state policy. Last year, Mr. David Knight (Science Dept.) spoke to Principal John Pehrson (Admin.) and the leadership committee about the importance of reciting the pledge weekly, bringing the Educational Code to the administration’s attention. The California Educational Code Section 52570 states, “In every public secondary school, there shall be conducted daily appropriate patriotic exercises.” According to this code, the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance serves as a patriotic exercise. UHS Video Production has begun to film a video about the Pledge, in which Mr. Martin Chinn (English Dept.) spoke about his experiences as a military veteran. After the video is shown to all classes in early January, the administration will ask teachers to recite the Pledge of Allegiance with their students weekly.
Mr. Pehrson said, “The goal is each time we do it, we add something of meaning, so we help students understand a little more about patriotism, love for country and appreciation for those who have helped make the country to what it is. Rather than just get on the microphone and do it and having people not think about it, we want to try to make each time meaningful, especially the first.”
The Pledge is regularly recited at many local high schools and at Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) elementary schools. Mr. Knight said, “I initially thought of the idea to implement the Pledge at UHS when I visited a local high school where the Pledge was said. We are very fortunate to live in United States, to live in Orange County, especially since so many people have dedicated their lives to protecting us. As citizens, we should say the Pledge to show respect for our country and for the sacrifices others make.”
When asked about his opinion of people objecting to the recitation of the Pledge, Mr. Knight said, “I don’t know why someone would think that saying the Pledge of Allegiance to a country you are a citizen of is a controversy. But people have the right to not say it, and I can respect that right.”
Ms. Jeanne Jelnick (English Dept.) believes that if the Pledge is said regularly at UHS, the pledge’s implementation has to be careful and thoughtful. She said, “It must be done very carefully because everyone has a different idea about what the flag represents. We have a number of students who are not American citizens, whose allegiance is to another flag–we have to be sensitive to the fact.”
Mr. Chinn, who has served in the army, said, “For many people, the flag is just a cloth symbol. Very few people understand the Pledge, and very few people have actually been in a position to feel what it means. The Pledge is important to me, and I wish it was more important to other people. But if it’s not, then I at least want to make sure that they know why it is important to some people and that they are lucky to even have the choice to not say it. That, in a lot of ways, is the highest expression of just how free we are. I don’t think the Pledge has value until students are asked to genuinely think about what the Pledge means to them.”
By KRUTHI REDUCHINTALA