Memo at NH high school has some assuming American Flag banned
LONDONDERRY — A memo to students helping organize an upcoming pep rally caused a flap when it inferred that the display of American Flags would be banned.
The letter, written by Londonderry High School teacher and pep rally coordinator Steve Juster on Sept. 10, outlined the "pep rally entrance protocol" for the event, which is scheduled for Friday to mark the annual Mack Plaque competition between teams from Londonderry High School and Pinkerton Academy in Derry. His note to about two dozen students assistants instructed that "NO use of the American flag. Do not wear/carry/present the American flag on the floor."
The instruction, one of four that included "there will be no undressing at all," "no derogatory statements about opponents" and "Nothing questionable written on any shirts, pants or skin," caused some people to get offended and wonder out loud why the school was banning the flag.
People used social media to vent over the issue, sharing an image of the memo to each other and media outlets. Comments on a Facebook post shared with NH1 read, "this is terrible," "...Liberals took over southern NH..." and " I hope they all show up with multiple American Flags. Red, White and Blue!!!! Stars and Stripes Forever!"
"I think there were some hard feelings and misinformation in that internal memo that went out to the assistants," said Londonderry school Superintendent Scott Laliberte on Monday in an interview with NH1.
Some veterans on the school's staff had previously voiced displeasure with how some students used American flags during previous school rallies. He said that in the past students have worn American flags around their shoulders, let the flag touch the floor and had not folded it properly.
In one such incident in 2012, students used the flag like matador cape to present members of the track team, according to a letter to the editor written to Lancers Spirit Online.
"An overzealous individual tackled the person who was in possession of the flag, resulting in a forceful plunge to the ground. There was a visible generational disconnect because many students were captivated by the routine while adults were bothered," the letter, which was written in 2013, states.
Laliberte said the wording of the memo was innacurate.
"What we're trying to do is avoid kids displaying the flag in a way that is inappopriate or disrespectful," he said.
Laliberte said the school's principal, Jason Parent, sent a response to parents and staff clarifying the issue.
In his own memo, Laliberte wrote, "We have corrected the misunderstanding by sending an updated email to parents and staff. In further clarification, the display of the flag and the singing of the National Anthem are both included in the pep rally program.
Students are welcome to bring American flags to the rally, so long as they are displayed with the respect that is deserved and articulated in the American Legion Flag Code."
Laliberte said he was not sure how they would address the issue with students. The pep rally is scheduled for Friday ahead of weekend sporting events.
"If they are not being respectful we will pull them aside," he said, and address the situation.
"We would always prefer they clarify with us before rising to assumption," Laliberte said Monday. "It's a teachable moment on several levels for sure."