Dear Parents and Students:
There has been much discussion regarding the singing of the National Anthem at the planned pep rally for this Friday. As many of you might already be aware, the original plan was to not perform the National Anthem. Upon further reflection and in light of recent events, we have decided to reverse the decision and have it performed. Below I detail why the original decision was made in the first place as well as why it has been reversed.
On Tuesday, September 19th, I met with the Student Council, the student group in charge of pep rallies. At the meeting, I brought up the appropriateness of the National Anthem at a pep rally. The point of the rally is to recognize student groups as well as for the student body to have fun as a whole and, as a result, build school spirit.
I was looking for a way to highlight as many groups as possible in the short amount of time that we have – about 30 minutes.
Neither the group nor I was trying in any way to make a political statement. We had no idea that this issue would become this heated on Tuesday of last week – almost 4 days before President Trump’s comments and the NFL’s reaction to them. The intent was never to satisfy or criticize the belief system of anyone or any group.
At FCHS we take a great deal of pride in the events we have that highlight the military and our country. We recite the Pledge of Allegiance each day as a school. We perform the National Anthem at each and every sporting event that includes the NJROTC. We have a fantastic Veteran’s Day assembly that highlights our NJROTC as well as members of our staff who served in the military. Those are just a few.
We reversed the decision and are going to perform for several reasons. After speaking to several parents, students, teachers and community members, it is apparent that the National Anthem at the pep rally is very important. I am truly happy and excited that it means so much to so many people!
In addition, I never meant for the school or the Student Council to be put in the middle of a political controversy. That is not their role, and it is not why they chose to serve the school.
I would like to thank those of you who have contacted me regarding this issue and have expressed your opinions. You respectfully listened to my explanation. My hope is that you feel that my attention to you was just as respectful. It is through conversations like these that we grow as individuals, as a school and as a country.
Rob Willman, Ph.D.