Most 8th grade students, in response to a survey orchestrated by classmate Kyle MacKinnon as part of a year-long effort to bring the Pledge back to the school, indicated they wanted the option to say the pledge, and now every classroom is outfitted with a flag.
MacKinnon was inspired to bring the pledge back to WMS (it’s unclear when it went away) after an old and worn American flag was replaced in the courtyard at the urging of a former WMS student. MacKinnon’s mother, Beth, says “Kyle realized that it would be really great for the students to recognize and respect the flag. Bringing back the Pledge of Allegiance was the perfect solution.” She credits “the countless hours” that Principal Mark Ito put in working with Kyle to make the student’s effort succeed.
The principal, who says the Pledge had not been recited during his roughly 10 years at the school as a teacher and administrator, met with Kyle multiple times throughout the course of the school year. “Not knowing the outcome, I wanted it to be a learning opportunity about initiating a request, researching/polling, proper steps, communicating with appropriate parties,” Ito says. “I wanted to focus on the process more than the outcome. I believe Kyle gained much along the way.”
Here’s Kyle speech from Friday, before the Memorial Day Weekend, at a school assembly:
I first came up with the idea to get the Pledge of Allegiance in Wellesley Middle School when the old American flag was replaced in the courtyard. Someone had seen that the American flag in front of the school was in need of replacement. At first I didn’t think much at all about the event. After a little while a question had developed in my mind….”Why would we replace our American flag but not properly show it our respect?” At that point I knew I wanted to do something. I talked with some members of my family and discovered that I should work with the faculty of WMS and bring back the Pledge of Allegiance. I started emailing Mr. Chisum the principal, at the end of 7th grade. 2 or 3 months later it was summer vacation. Mr. Chisum then moved to the high school, and Mr. Ito became principal of WMS.
This year I worked very hard to make progress on my mission. My first big step was when I sent out a survey to all of the 8th grade students. 95% of students said they would feel comfortable saying the Pledge at any time. If you don’t want to say the Pledge of Allegiance that’s okay because you always will have the choice not to say it.
I really want students at WMS to understand what the Pledge and the flag really mean. I see the Pledge as a way to give back to our country and to respect it. Think about what you can do in America every day and how fortunate we are to live here. America protects you from people who don’t think we deserve what we have, and would want to take it away from us. But most importantly it gives us our freedom, freedom which people have protected for generations and even sacrificed their lives for. We have many brave men and women that help protect our country’s values so that we can always be free. We need a way to say thank you, I am in your allegiance. When we say the Pledge of Allegiance, we are not saying that America controls us, we are saying that we are proud to be American. Even if you were not born in this country or maybe you have dual citizenship, you are a citizen of the USA and as a citizen we have duties. One of them is showing respect for our country. I think that over the years people have lost the realization of how great this country is, and by saying the Pledge every day, starting now, we will come to a deeper love and understanding of our country, the United States of America.
I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
And to the republic for which it stands,
One nation, under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.
Separately, Wellesley High School began reciting the Pledge of Allegiance during morning announcements following April vacation.
Superintendent David Lussier says it’s actually state law to recite the Pledge at school, so when students at the high school and middle school noted its absence, the schools worked to re-introduce it. “For me, the issue has far less to do with complying with the law and much more to do with supporting values related to citizenship,” he says.