In the small town of Waldron, Ark., — population 3,600, smack-dab in the middle of the Razorback State and surrounded by lakes and a mountain range — they love hunting and fishing and their Turkey Track Bluegrass Festival.
Some of the high school students also love to fly Confederate flags from their trucks, a tradition they say signifies they’re proud of their “heritage” and where they live.
But those reasons didn’t fly with the brass at Waldron High School, who see the flags as potentially offensive and have threatened to suspend three boys — and possibly hold them back from graduating — if they continue displaying them on their trucks in the school parking lot, according to KFSM-TV in Fort Smith, Ark.
In response, students and other town residents rallied twice on Tuesday near the school — with many a Confederate flag rippling in the wind — in support of the boys.
One of them is Garren Carpenter — the son of Scott County Sheriff Amie Carpenter, who said she told the boys to obey all laws and take the flags down before entering the school’s parking lot from now on, and that they agreed.
On her Facebook page Tuesday, Amie Carpenter said she’s proud of her son, who is “19 and his own man,” for “knowing his rights and for standing up but yet keeping it respectful, ’cause that’s the way he’s been taught his whole life.”
“We tried to fight it, until they were going to suspend us for three to 10 days or give us zeros,” Garren Carpenter told KFSM. “We were kind of shocked, we didn’t do anything wrong.”
As for Tuesday’s demonstrations, the first occurred outside the high school in the morning, with a handful of students flying Confederate flags on their trucks. Later that day a band of students and parents gathered near the high school to support the boys and let their opinions on the matter be heard.
“Everyone around here rallied up and stuff. I mean, people support us,” Garren Carpenter told KFSM. “It just shows we’re good ol’ country boys down here.”
Superintendent Gary Wayman met with the students Monday morning to warn them about possible consequences if they continued to fly the Confederate flags on school property, telling them to take the flags down before entering the parking lot.
“What they are trying to do is take all our rights away,” Dakota Sims, another student the administration warned, told KFSM. “We are just showing that [we] are proud to be where we live.”
Another of Carpenter’s Facebook posts noted that on Tuesday, the boys were met by the principal and superintendent at the entrance of the school, and that the princiapl thanked them for taking down the flags and that the superintendent “shook each their hands and chatted with them.”
Wayman noted too that the meeting with the students went well, and that he doesn’t believe the students were acting in a prejudiced manner, but were expressing Southern pride.
“It’s been blown way out of proportion,” he told KFSM. “I expect it to die down pretty soon.”