PORTLAND, Ore. - The exclusion of the Pledge of Allegiance from a southwest Portland elementary school's ceremony has proved upsetting for a local mom.
Departing fifth-graders at Capitol Hill Elementary usually open their promotion ceremony with the Pledge of Allegiance - but not this year.
"I was sad," said parent Briana Reese. "The flag was sitting up there, you know. Two of the kids went up and they said 'Everybody rise,' and we rose, and I thought for just a second 'Oh yeah, we're going to put our hands on our hearts and we're going to salute the flag' - but no."
Reese had heard that the principal planned to take the pledge out of the ceremony.
"I think that's what they should be doing - telling kids you should be pledging your allegiance to this country," Reese said. "This is a great country. You're here for a reason."
The pledge was instead replaced with a singing version of the preamble to the Constitution.
KATU tried repeatedly to talk with Principal Pam Wilson but got no results. However, in an e-mail response to Reese's questions, she explained the pledge was removed "out of respect for the diversity of religious faiths." READ THE FULL E-MAIL.
Some parents support the principal's decision.
"I think it's nice to be trying to consider everybody," said parent Teri Price. "But I don't think she necessarily meant it to be that controversial. I think she just wanted a change."
The Portland School District said there were no complaints about the pledge. They said they have little say in how principals handle end of the year ceremonies at individual schools.
"The Pledge contains the words, 'under God' and we have many Muslim families here. So out of respect for the diversity of religious faiths practiced by our school community (parents and families) we decided that this year the students would memorize and sing the Preamble to the Constitution. At the rehearsal on Friday they did it from memory and to a wonderful song. It was very joyful and unique. I think you, and other parents, will really appreciate the creative and new way to open the program."