Gorham High School students are not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and, contrary to state law, many classrooms lack an American flag.

That situation was enough to prompt Suzanne Ennis, a Gorham substitute teacher, to present to the Town Council on Tuesday a petition demanding flags in classrooms and that the Pledge of Allegiance be recited in all Gorham schools.

The petition cited a Maine law requiring that a flag be displayed in each classroom.

Ennis, the mother of a Gorham Middle School student, said Wednesday an unofficial survey of 17 of the classrooms at Gorham High School revealed nine were missing flags. She said two classrooms that aren’t displaying American flags are displaying United Nations flags.

Ennis said military veterans in Gorham, whom she talked with and who signed the petition, are concerned about the lack U.S. flags at the high school.

The Gorham petition circulated only 10 days.

“We have collected over 300 signatures,” Ennis told the Town Council Tuesday. “We want the high school to be in compliance with state law.”

Superintendent Ted Sharp said Friday 85 flags, which were ordered about three weeks ago, arrived Friday and would be installed in high school classrooms Saturday.

Signers of the petition also want all Gorham students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Ennis said Wednesday the pledge is recited at the Village Elementary and middle school, but isn’t at the high school. She is a substitute teacher at all three schools.

Ennis said many who signed her petition didn’t know the pledge was not being said at Gorham High School. The petition read: “We also demand that the Superintendent enforce his directive that all Gorham schools, including the high school, recite the Pledge of Allegiance.”

Sharp said he had considered issuing a directive in October that high school students recite the Pledge of Allegiance. But, after discussing the matter with Gorham High School Principal Chris Record, they agreed that it could be a lesson in the democratic process for the School Council, a body of 10 teachers and 10 students elected by their peers. Sharp proposed to the School Council that the Pledge be recited each day in classrooms or over the school’s intercom.

“This a great teaching opportunity,” Sharp said.

The School Council in a November meeting didn’t support Sharp’s proposal, according to the Gorham High School Web site. The School Council is considering an alternative plan, which would allow time and an area for those students who wished to say the pledge.

Ennis said Friday she wasn’t allowed to attend the School Council meeting last month. “It’s an outrage,” she said.

Ennis said the School Council debate should have been public. She said the lesson in civics was blotched.

“It’s not a public forum,” Sharp said about the School Council meeting. “We don’t open what goes on in the school to the public.”

Sharp said the School Council would convene on Dec. 17 to continue its discussion. “It’s our job to help them become good citizens,” Sharp said. “It’s what the flag is all about.”

“I think some people don’t realize kids are assets and not liabilities,” Sharp said. “It’s our job to help them become good citizens.”

The School Council will make its recommendation about the pledge to the Gorham School Committee, which would make the final decision about reciting the pledge.


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