While democracy may be withering on the vine in the corridors of the White House, it appears to be considerably less atrophied in the corridors of Boulder High School, as the following news story from the Denver Post suggests:
About 100 students at Boulder High School walked out after their first class this morning, to recite an alternative Pledge of Allegiance, in protest.
They object to hearing the phrase “one nation, under God” during the morning Pledge recitation, led over the school’s public address system.
‘We don’t object to pledging to our country, but we do object to pledging to a religion,” said Ashley Guesman, 17, a protest organizer.
State law requires high schools to give students the opportunity to say the Pledge of Allegiance. In past years, Boulder High allowed students to gather either at 7:15 a.m. or at lunchtime to recite it.
This year, a more formal arrangement was made, to broadcast the Pledge over the PA system at 8:30 a.m., according to principal Bud Jenkins.
Jenkins said the old Pledge routine required an adminstrator to stop whatever he was doing at lunchtime to meet the kids. At times, administrators would be too busy, and the kids would miss out.
This year, the recitation was made more organized and formal.
Jenkins, who’s been principal for three years, graduated from Boulder High in 1971, at a time when the pledge was not recited.
He said that this morning’s protest was not disruptive, and that there would be no consequences for participants.
“If the kids want to recite the Pledge, we respect that. If they don’t want to recite the Pledge, we respect that. If they want to recite a different Pledge, I guess we need to respect that,” he said.
“This is not a cookie-cutter high school,” he said. “These kids are experiencing the democratic process, and putting their ideas out to the community. Nothing that happened today is anti-American. Good for the kids. I’m proud that they follow the democratic process of telling the community about ideas they disagree with.” [full text]
Kudos to Principal Bud Jenkins for not overreacting to the student protest and for recognizing that dissent is to democracy what a brisk walk is to the human heart.