PRIEST RIVER — While conflict swirls nationwide over professional athletes refusing to honor the national flag and anthem, student-athletes here have had no such qualms, said Priest River Lamanna High School Principal Joseph Kren Oct. 3.
“Spartan Pride is alive and well and we work diligently to help our students understand what it means to be a citizen of this great nation of ours,” said Kren.
Since kickoff weekend Sept. 10, professional athletes in the National Football League have demonstrated against the national flag and national anthem each week this season by kneeling, sitting, remaining in the locker room, holding their fists aloft in the 1960’s-era “Black Power” black supremacist pose, or stretching during the playing of the national anthem before NFL games. This season’s anti-anthem activities are the continuation of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal in 2016 to follow NFL policy and respectfully stand for the anthem. As reported by Sports Illustrated Sept. 25, the NFL game operations manual requires players to be on the field, to stand at attention with their helmets in their left hands, and to refrain from talking during the national anthem.
Kren said that in the West Bonner County School District, student-athletes have shown respect for the flag and the anthem before each athletic contest. Occasionally the district will substitute the Pledge of Allegiance for the national anthem if technical problems prevent playing the anthem.
“To date we have not had any issues concerning student behavior during the Pledge of Allegiance nor the National Anthem. Students have stood respectfully for each.”
That support for the flag and nation extends even to practices, where student-athletes practicing in fields nearby have stood with hands over hearts during the playing of the national anthem prior to fellow Spartans’ athletic contests.
WBCSD policy 3200 on student rights and responsibilities was adopted in 2008 and states, “All students are entitled to enjoy the rights protected by the Federal and State Constitutions and laws for persons of their age and maturity in a school setting. Students should exercise these rights reasonably and avoid violating the rights of others. Students who violate the rights of others or violate District policies or rules will be subject to disciplinary measures.”
Multi-millionaire professional athletes like Kaepernick who have refused to honor the national flag and anthem have said they did so to protest the underpaid, overworked police officers who serve and protect their communities. Locally, PRLHS and the school district have positive relationships with local law enforcement agencies, indicated among other things by the love for school resource officer Sgt. Chris Davis, and the fact that Priest River police chief Drew McLain serves on the school board. Kren added that support for military veterans runs high at PRLHS, where students responded positively when they learned about new staff members who had served in the U.S armed forces, and where a new flagpole will go up this fall with the support of the Idaho National Guard.