Cape Elizabeth students not given opportunity to recite Pledge of Allegiance

A few weeks ago, the story broke about the South Portland High School students who want to give students the option to opt out of saying the Pledge of Allegiance each morning at school.


I gave my take on the issue in my weekly column for The Portland Phoenix, and yesterday I received an email from Robert SanGiovanni, the father of one of the SPHS students pushing for the measure that has proven to be extremely controversial.

Here’s what he had to say:

“I am the father of Lily SanGiovanni who is the class president at South Portland High School. Her, Morrigan Turner and Gaby Ferrell are seeking to change the way the pledge happens at SPHS.

Cape Elizabeth High School.

Cape Elizabeth High School.

Recently Lily showed me a very well-written article from the Cape Elizabeth High School student newspaper The Cape Insight called “To pledge or not to pledge” written by Rachel Seekins and Caroline Paclat.

While the piece does a great job re-telling the story about the SPHS controversy, what is incredibly newsworthy is that the school administration at CEHS doesn’t currently give students an opportunity to say the pledge:

“At Cape Elizabeth High School, students are not given a direct opportunity to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. A survey conducted this week concluded that 77% of students who responded do not feel it’s necessary to bring the pledge to the school.”

While SPHS faculty and administration scrutinize and judge the addition of four words, the situation at neighboring CEHS is vastly different and potentially in violation of a Maine statute.

“CEHS Vice Principal Nathan Carpenter explained that should a student or group of students approach him encouraging that we include the Pledge of Allegiance in a part of our school day, he would look into school board policy and help those interested gather information to see if it’s something that the student population would enjoy. However, no one has yet approached him regarding this topic.”

South Portland High School.

South Portland High School.

This adds perspective to the SPHS controversy. I believe this pledge issue is far from over and has far-reaching impact. I ultimately think this is really about student’s rights, to think and act for themselves, which seems to be missing in many schools nationwide.

Though most K-12 students across the nation can’t vote because they are not old enough, they can express their feelings about their country everyday when they opt in or opt out of the pledge. It is a small act to stand and say the pledge but it should be done without coercion.

Demographic differences between CE and SP may have a lot to do with the different attitudes toward the pledge but compliance to a Maine Statute should be the bottom line, even if it’s just one CE student who wants to say the pledge but is not getting a chance to at school.”

Chris Shorr

About Chris Shorr

Chris is a sixth generation Portlander who loves all things Maine. He has worked with mentally ill and marginalized adults at a Portland non-profit, on a lobster boat in Casco Bay, at several high-end Portland restaurants, and at a local meat packing plant. He also ran for Portland City Council in 2013, wrote a weekly column in the now defunct Portland Daily Sun, and currently writes a weekly column in The Portland Phoenix.