Seeing some older, well-worn American flags throughout Amherst Steele High School, principal Joe Tellier decided to look to veterans for help.
At VFW Post 1662 on Cleveland Avenue, he found exactly the right person — Jose Torres, a mover and shaker at the Lorain County Veterans Service Commission.
Torres hooked Tellier up with about 70 brand new flags to hang in classrooms. He also offered to dispose of the tattered ones with the proper respect.
“He went all out,” the principal said, voicing thanks for the commission’s generosity.
The gift goes hand-in-hand with a decision Tellier recently made: He plans, starting Sept. 11, to bring back the tradition of saying the Pledge of Allegiance each morning at the high school.
“To me, it was just missing. I’d always heard that the first 30 seconds of the school day,” he said.
The Pledge had been part of the routine at Steele but fell out of use several years ago. However, it is offered to other students — at Amherst Junior High School, for example — every day.
“Offered” is the key word. Schools cannot force students to recite the Pledge.
Challenges to compulsory recitation started even before the Pledge of Allegiance was formally adopted by Congress. Some religious groups argued that swearing an oath to a flag violated their First Amendment rights.
The Supreme Court agreed in 1943, ruling that a requirement to say the pledge violated both the First and Fourteenth amendments. The issue has continued to raise controversy into the 2010s in a number of state and federal courts.
Tellier said he sees no issue with offering students the opportunity to recite the Pledge each morning, and if students choose to sit instead that’s their right.
He believes the vast majority will stand.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.