Last November, California High School student, Kristine Craig, found herself at a Veteran’s Day Thanksgiving Dinner with her grandfather and other family members. Before eating, all participants were asked to stand to say the Pledge of Allegiance to honor all the veterans present, including her own grandfather. As the pledge was recited, Kristine began to realize that she was having trouble remembering some of the words. Why, she wondered?
At this dinner, as she was enjoying the company of others, Kristine began to wonder and think about when saying the pledge had ended for her and other students like her.
When Osama bin Laden was killed by Navy Seals on May 2, Kristine found that again her own feelings of patriotism and pride in America were stirred up, just as they had been at that Veteran’s Day meal. She asked herself, “Why don’t we say the pledge anymore? At what age did it stop?”
Instead of doing nothing about her own questions, Kristine decided to take action. She immediately emailed Cal High’s principal, Mark Corti, along with the superintendent, Steve Enoch. Kristine also did some research, learning all elementary schools said the Pledge of Allegiance, about a quarter of middle schools in our district recited the pledge, and no high schools said the pledge. Kristine wondered when it stopped for kids and why.
“People my age need to appreciate democracy and all it stands for,” Kristine said.
Mr. Corti was very receptive to Kristine’s desire to begin to say the Pledge of Allegiance at Cal High. In fact, he asked Kristine to come in and speak with the faculty about her idea at their Monday morning staff meeting right after he received her initial email.
Kristine also began to notice that some of her classrooms no longer had American flags. Again, she brought this to Mr. Corti’s attention, and he placed an order for enough American flags so that all classrooms at Cal High would have one.
What began as self-reflection about the Pledge of the Allegiance has in fact changed a school’s weekly happenings. Beginning the week before Sept. 11 this year, Kristine, now a Senior, saw her hard work and persistence pay off when the Pledge of Allegiance became a weekly part of the Monday daily announcements.
In addition, Kristine herself was asked to speak the pledge for the whole student body to hear, a role which she will have for the remainder of her time at California High School.
“I was so excited it was finally happening!" she said.
Mr. Corti and the teachers and staff at Cal High have made the commitment to continue the Monday announcements pledge even after Kristine graduates from Cal High, ensuring that current and future high schoolers can take pride in the all that the pledge holds dear.
Of course, not all high schoolers are thrilled with saying the Pledge of Allegiance each week, and there has been some student opposition with a few students questioning why they have to say the pledge. Overall, though, the weekly Pledge of Allegiance has offered many students pride in themselves, their school, and their country.
From her experience, Kristine Craig has learned that being persistent and following a dream is essential. She can push through anything, which is a motto that she learned through experience and will get her far in life.
Kudos to a young lady who helped inspire a school and all who know her! She has helped a whole school begin to heal from events that caused a fracture in our country and take pride in living in America!