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Massachusetts High School Cancels ‘USA Day’ Celebration to ‘Avoid Politics’

Admin By Admin Nov26,2023

The holidays during the school year are slam-packed with events, parties, and, for many, ‘Spirit Weeks.’ Spirit week is when kids are asked to tap into their creativity and come to school donning their best interpretations of whatever theme each day requires.

Unfortunately, something as innocuous as Spirit Week has created controversy and frustration in a Massachusetts community due to a decision by the school administration to nix USA Day from the approved themes because it’s too “political.” 

The adults in the room

Wellesley High School in Massachusetts has canceled their ‘USA Day’ from spirit week to “avoid politics.”

In a letter from the school principal, Jamie Chisum, explains the decision:

“The high school administration decided not to go forward with that spirit theme because it felt really different than the other themes kids came up with for the week. We felt that the topic has been politicized beyond our school, and we wanted to avoid politics.”

It’s important to note that the students picked the theme and wanted to dedicate a day to showing their pride in America. That’s pretty remarkable, given that the United States is facing a crisis of plummeting patriotism. 

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Mr. Chisum goes on to write:

“We’ve had Mismatch Monday, Tropical Tuesday, Western Wednesday, Team Jersey Thursday and today was Fitness Friday. Monday is Monochrome Monday and Tuesday is Pajama Day.”

It’s hard to see why USA Day wouldn’t have fit with these other themes, but that isn’t the point.

Let the children speak

Olivia Spagnuolo, who is a member of the Student Unification Program responsible for coming up with the themes, told local media:

“The administration was not going to let this happen. It wasn’t a topic for discussion.”

Ms. Spagnuolo went on to say:

“They said it was not allowed because it separated people at the school.”

Spirit Week in general separates people in a school. The entire concept separates those with spirit from those without spirit. 

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Even if the entire school participates in Spirit Week, how does Team Jersey Day not separate people at the school? Lord help the child who might be a Colts fan in a probably Patriot-loving school.

Make it political

Ironically, in his letter, Mr. Chisum apologizes, writing:

“We acknowledge that the impact for some people has been just the opposite of our intention and that we have inadvertently politicized this activity.”

Showing pride for your country, otherwise known as being patriotic, isn’t an issue of politics.

Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and those who don’t know the difference between the three can all and are often all patriotic and show pride in their nation. The Wellesley High School leadership wanted to politicize USA Day.

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For what end goal did these school officials manipulate an innocent idea generated by the student body in their charge? It is the same reason any group manipulates a narrative: power and prestige.

Now, the school can be proud of their progressive honor badge, claiming to attempt to create a safe learning environment and acknowledging the harm pride in the country can cause. Too bad for all those kids who bought their American pride gear from The Gap; who doesn’t love those classic T’s?!

Better idea

Mr. Chisum punctuates his letter with this:

“Spirit week is intended to be a light and fun way for our students to get excited about our pep rally and Thanksgiving Day football game.”

Showing off your best red, white, and blue attire, sporting the American flag, and dressing like good ole’ Uncle Sam is fun and light. But imagine that holding a USA Day does incite some debate within the school.

Why would that be something to be discouraged? One of my best classes in high school was an American Government class in which the teacher encouraged us to debate controversial topics related to our country. 

It made all of us better debaters, better thinkers, and better communicators. Schools shouldn’t shy away from civic discourse within their student body.

These young men and women will be the policymakers of the future. Now is the time to teach them how to craft winning arguments, intelligently persuade detractors, and learn to work together with those they vehemently disagree with.

Furthermore, you can be proud of your country and your nation’s symbol while acknowledging its inherent flaws. Pride and criticism don’t have to exist in their own vacuums.

These concepts can and often coexist. I say wear those American flag t-shirts, put red, white, and blue ribbons in your hair, Hell…paint your face like the flag, and while you’re at it, kiddos…discuss how best your nation should move forward in an ever-shrinking global landscape while navigating an ever-expanding internal cultural makeup.

Now that, my friends, is how you show some spirit. 

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