By Jillian Haguisan
The Pledge of Allegiance has been a part of our American way of life since we were in elementary school. It simply requires us to stand up, place our hands over our hearts, and recite: “I pledge allegiance to the flag…” So why have some students at Oyster Bay High School stopped reciting it aloud?
In recent years, there has been controversy surrounding NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem as a form of social protest. Some students may also refrain from saying the pledge as a similar form of protest. Ava Aschettino, a sophomore, said, “Sometimes, when I’m angry with the state of the country, I don't say the pledge because I don't believe in what I'm saying.” She believes other students may have the same reasoning. But, are politics really the explanation as to why many are not reciting the pledge aloud? Probably not.
While some students refuse to recite the pledge for political reasons, most people in OBHS associate the lack of recitation with laziness rather than rebellion. When asked about why he does not say the pledge aloud, senior Kai Olavarria simply stated, “It’s too early in the morning.”
Other students have commented that they don’t recite the pledge because no one else does. “I don’t want to be the only one saying it,” said a 10th grader.
Many students have called attention to the silence in the morning, but not many have taken the initiative to actually recite the pledge, especially since they would most likely be reciting it alone. Though some students deliberately avoid saying the pledge, it could simply be the fear of standing out that causes the quietness.
Teachers also notice that students have stopped reciting the pledge, but they have contrasting opinions on the issue. Some don’t find the silence to be a problem. “I don't think there's a message behind why they are refusing to say it,” stated OBHS librarian Mr. Weber. “I just think their mind is elsewhere.”
Many students agree that being busy with work is one of the many factors in not saying the pledge. Jonathan Szarfarc, a senior, believed that those who don’t say it are probably preoccupied with something, and those sitting down could just be doing their work.
However, some teachers do find the choice to be discourteous, regardless of the students’ reasons. One teacher noted that not only do students not recite the pledge aloud, but some intentionally do not stand, which he found to be disrespectful.
Not all students refuse to recite the pledge, though. “I observe most of my students standing and reciting the pledge with me on a daily basis,” says Ms. Murphy, high school English teacher.
Additionally, though a majority of high school students have stopped reciting the pledge, students in the middle level continue to deliver it daily without hesitation. 7th graders Anthony Raio, Sebastian Aquilino, and Brittany Matt all said they recite the pledge daily. They were shocked to hear that some of the upperclassmen do not. While they collectively showed discontent, Anthony also respected the high school students’ right not to stand, even if he believed it was wrong.
Even though there are people who dislike the silence, both students and staff accept the notion that students cannot, and should not, be forced to say the pledge.
There is no definite explanation as to why most middle schoolers always recite the pledge, yet many high schoolers do not. However, most would agree that it’s often not an intentional sign of disrespect.