Miss-Lou educators show their allegiance to the pledge

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 14, 2004

With a Supreme Court ruling on the role of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools looming, Miss-Lou educators have no intentions of taking the pledge out of their schools.

California atheist Michael Newdow is arguing his case before the Court this month, saying the words &uot;under God&uot; are unconstitutional and offensive.

Newdow sued the Sacramento County school his daughter attends on her behalf saying it violated her religious freedom.

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The ninth Circuit court agreed with Newdow, sending the case to the Supreme Court with the Elk Grove Unified School District’s appeal.

Newdow opposed the morning ritual, practiced in nearly every Miss-Lou school, of reciting the pledge stating his daughter would be singled out if she did not recite it.

Ferriday Junior High School Principal Dorothy Parker said her school did not force any student to say the pledge.

&uot;Every morning a student comes from a class and says it over the intercom,&uot; Parker said. &uot;Because we are a learning institution it is important to be loyal to your country. I’ve had no complaints.&uot;

Students at Ferriday Lower Elementary, Vidalia Upper Elementary, Morgantown Elementary, Robert Lewis Middle School and Frazier Primary School hear the Pledge over the intercom in similar ways each morning.

Vidalia Lower Elementary, McLaurin Elementary and West Primary do no use the intercom system to say the pledge, but many say it in the classrooms.

&uot;Not everybody gets to the right moment at the same time so we leave it up to the teachers,&uot; West Primary Principal Cindy Idom said.

McLaurin Principal Karen Tutor said she felt it is the school’s role to teach the Pledge.

&uot;Part of what we teach here is community,&uot; she said. &uot;We teach our children to be a positive part of the community and that’s just a positive part of being part of our country.&uot;

Natchez-Adams Superintendent Anthony Morris said he leaves it up to the principals to decide whether or not to say the pledge, but

he supports it. He said the &uot;under God&uot; portion was not inappropriate.

&uot;I do think it has a place in our schools,&uot; Morris said. &uot;It is a part of citizenship, and that’s part of what we are required to teach.&uot;

Morris said he had never received complaints from parents but if he did their wishes would be respected.

Laster said she enjoys attending the schools in the morning to say the Pledge along with the students.

&uot;That’s our heritage, that’s what this country is all about,&uot; Laster said.

Vidalia Lower Elementary Principal Paul Nelson said he thinks the pledge is more important now than ever.

&uot;It’s a positive thing,&uot; Nelson said. &uot;Especially here in recent times with so many worldwide events.&uot;

First Assembly of God Associate Pastor Derrek Schultz, a former Marine and a candidate for Navy Chaplin, said &uot;under God&uot; is an important part of the pledge.

&uot;Our country was built on the foundation of Christianity,&uot; he said. &uot;I believe this country has been blessed and was rooted on the Bible and those Christian values. I believe the Pledge of Allegiance is very important to those who consider themselves American.&uot;

The Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling in early July on the case. Justice Antonin Scalia, widely considered the court’s most conservative judge, recused himself from the case at Newdow’s request. Scalia previously made public comments about the Pledge of Allegiance.

Without Scalia there is a possibility of a 4-4 split, which would mean the pledge would be banned in ninth-circuit schools with the potential that it could apply to all public schools.