Patriotism through the pledge |

Patriotism through the pledge

SUMMIT COUNTY – Most students days will be a little different – and maybe a bit more patriotic – when school starts in September.

A Colorado law mandating that public school students from kindergarten to 12th grade recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily as a part of their school routine went into effect at midnight Wednesday.

Students can refrain from participating for religious or other reasons.

Though the law doesn’t require Colorado school districts to adopt a policy on the subject, the Summit School District is working toward streamlining its policies to match the new mandate.

Board members approved the first reading of a policy for patriotic exercises at their meeting in July and are scheduled to review the second reading this month.

Schools Superintendent Lynn Spampinato said the new law likely resulted from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the ensuing sense of patriotism among many Americans.

Though some opponents say the law infringes on their freedom of speech, Spampinato said she believes it’s written with enough flexibility to respect an individual’s freedom of speech.

“People are interpreting the law in different ways,” she said. “I think our interpretation is students and teachers have a right to refrain (for religious or other reasons), and I think that’s built in to the law.”

The new law won’t change Frisco first-grader avier Gowins’ school day. His class already recited the Pledge of Allegiance daily in kindergarten.

Only 6 years old, Gowins said he doesn’t understand the meaning of the Pledge or patriotism, but he likes reciting it just the same.

His mother, Amy Gowins, is glad it will be incorporated into the daily school ritual.

“I believe in the Pledge of Allegiance and I believe in God,” she said.

But one needn’t be Christian to say the Pledge of Allegiance, said Linda Coffey, who teaches second grade at Upper Blue Elementary.

“My view is using “God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance can cover any kind of God,” Coffey said. “If you have different religions in the classroom, that would just represent what you believe in.”

According to the state law, no student will be punished for disobeying. Students whose parents give them a written excuse and those who are not United States citizens will be exempt from the requirement.

Coffey already had her children recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily, and has yet to have a parent to object to the class’s daily ritual.

“We choose to do it because it’s a routine for the kids to come in and learn respect for the country,” she said, adding that she teaches her students what the Pledge means and the definition of patriotism. “We talk about it a lot, especially after Sept. 11.”

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