Students at a Colorado high school are accusing officials of rejecting an effort they waged to honor the U.S. with a special day devoted to celebrating American heritage.
Parents and students spoke with conservative commentator Todd Starnes on condition of anonymity, telling him that their request for "'Merica Monday," an event during which they hoped to inspire fellow classmates to dress in red, white and blue was turned down by Fort Collins High School administrators over fears that some might be offended.
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The students hoped the day could be integrated into next week's Winter Spirit Week, but their dreams were reportedly dashed by school officials.
"They said they didn’t want to offend anyone from other countries or immigrants. They just really did not want to make anyone feel uncomfortable," a student council member told Starnes.
Another student leader said, "They said they didn’t want to be exclusive to any other country."
Taking these concerns into consideration, the students reportedly proposed an alternative: "My Country Monday."
They changed the focus of the event to put it on individual students' home countries, allowing everyone -- even non-Americans -- to participate. The students claim that this initiative was also banned.
"We were confused why we couldn’t do one day that was for America," one of the students said.
A Poudre School District spokesperson responded this week to inquiries made by Starnes. While the school admitted to rejecting the initial "'Merica Day" celebration, students and parents say the response doesn't tell the whole story.
"Building administration met with the students to discuss the inconsistency of this day versus the other planned theme days including PJ day and Twin day," read the statement. "The students then suggested changing the first day to 'My Country Monday' and administration agreed. This theme day allows students to showcase their pride in America and for international students, their country of origin."
But Starnes said that parents and students told him the school district initially rejected "My Country Day" until the commentator began inquiring to learn more about the situation; they say it was reinstated Tuesday.
Protesters showed up outside the school Tuesday, voicing outrage over the decision to ban the pro-America observance, KMGH-TV reported. About a dozen people were outside the school around 9 a.m., waving flags and making their frustrations known.
By mid-morning, principal Mark Eversole had issued an email to parents apologizing over the fact that the school's ban on "'Merica Monday" had been seen as unpatriotic. As The Coloradoan noted, officials felt that "merica" was a slang term often -- one that is “often used in a negative stereotypical way to describe life in the United States."
Eversole said in the email that the negative connotations are what led to discussions about finding an alternative event. The note also reportedly went on to say that "My Country Day," the replacement for the original event, has now been renamed "America Day."
"We were surprised that our community interpreted our actions as anti-American. We are a proud public school in America and support many activities to celebrate our great nation," Eversole said. "Due to this outpouring of sentiment and misinterpretation of our intentions, we have decided to rename the first day of Spread the Love week to 'America Day,' as opposed to '‘Merica Day.'"
A message left by TheBlaze for a a Poudre School District spokesperson in an effort to further clarify the details of the story has not yet been returned.