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‘Merica Day roils HCHS community

South Boston News
Flags out in front of HCHS for the school's Veterans Day program. / September 25, 2017
Spirit Week at Halifax County High School has a new Monday celebration — Wacky Tacky Day — and a new spirit of outrage playing out on social media.

The reason: departing from past practice, HCHS shelved Red White & Blue Day, renamed this year as 'Merica Day, as the kickoff event of the high school’s Homecoming Week celebration. HCHS Principal Michael Lewis said he made the decision Friday to switch up the theme days once controversy began to bubble up around “’Merica Day.”

The Oxford Living Dictionary defines ‘Merica as a slang word used “specially to emphasize qualities regarded as stereotypically American, such as materialism or fervent patriotism,” providing an example: “over here in 'Merica we do what we want.” The online resource describes the term as humorous.

At HCHS, however, ‘Merica Day — and the reactions it provoked among students — proved more ominous than amusing.

While acknowledging that “I’m not 100 percent familiar with that term,” Lewis said “what I do know about this situation as it was being advertised, is that was stirring up controversy on social media among students. My job here is the safety and education of students, and because of the information I received we changed [the theme day].

“It was not an attempt to take America out of the high school, it was not an attempt to tell students that you can’t wear clothing with American flags. We have American flags posted throughout the school every day. We participate in the Pledge of Allegiance every day …. In no way, shape or form was it a way to take the American flag out of the high school,” he said.

Lewis declined to describe the nature of the uproar welling up around the choice of ‘Merica Day as a school theme. But he said the situation was threatening to get out of hand.

After consulting with the school’s SCA counselor on a substitute theme day, Lewis said he changed Monday to Wacky Tacky Day at HCHS.

In past years, HCHS has kicked off Spirit Week on Monday with Red White & Blue Day. This year, the student council chose a new name: 'Merica Day. According to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mark Lineburg, that name drew concerns among "some folks" that were passed on to adults at HCHS.

Lineburg said the administration was concerned that "Merica Day could spur a counterreaction, such as students wearing Black Lives Matter garb as a rebuke to perceived political overtones with the new name.

The superintendent said Lewis "feels like he's got a good climate over there [at HCHS] and he didn't want to risk that.

"This is not about anybody's freedom of expression," said Lineburg, adding, "It's a tough time right now [politically] and I think that plays out in school every day."

Lineburg said that political divisions may exist, but should not get in the way of student learning.

"I see great kids who do great things who love each other [at HCHS]. You just try to hold on to that."

Lineburg also praised the HCHS principal for acting to head off further conflict and said the decision hadn't been an easy one: Lewis is "hurting over the controversy right now. He's trying to serve the community the very best he can."

Lewis said he knew that stepping in to replace 'Merica Day with another theme event would draw criticism.

“I realize maybe that it’s not popular,” he said. But, “It would be far less popular if we had something happen in the school that harmed a child.” Asked if he was referring to fights, protests or other forms of conflict, Lewis replied, “It could have been any of those things …. That’s the whole rationale for the decision, so that we won’t have a fight or have controversy.

“We make that decision [to promote safety and education] every day. What makes the decision different in this case is people thinking we’re taking red, white and blue out of the school. We don’t have a problem with students wearing red, white and blue at any time.”

This is the first time HCHS has encountered trouble with the theme day, which previously went by the name of Red White & Blue Day.

The theme day switch was made Friday, after indications of potential trouble surfaced. Lewis said he isn’t a social media user but he and others at HCHS monitor conversations taking place online and “the information caused enough concern in my mind that we needed to make a decision on the day to create a positive learning environment for our students.”

The change in theme days came before Sunday’s widespread protests in the NFL among players, coaches and team owners who locked arms, kneeled or sat for the National Anthem.

The extraordinary game-day protest came after President Donald Trump, speaking Friday at a rally in Alabama in front of thousands of supporters, called for the firing of players who do not stand for the National Anthem. Trump told his audience that NFL owners should get “that son of a bitch off the field right now” — a comment widely perceived as aimed at former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began taking a knee during the anthem last year to protest police shootings of African-Americans.

Lewis acknowledged that “politics often finds its way” into the high school building but stressed that political considerations had no bearing on his actions.

“I reiterate, this decision is completely about the safety of children.”

It isn’t the first time that HCHS has cancelled an event out of concern that trouble could erupt: Lewis said he cancelled a school dance several years ago for similar reasons.

Lewis added he was aware that some parents and others in the community are displeased by the cancellation of Red White & Blue Day; some have contacted the school directly to protest the decision: “I’m sitting here at my desk with a note where some parents have called and I’ll do my best to get back with them.

“I understand there’s a certain amount of people on Facebook that are displeased,” said the HCHS principal. “I hope they’ll understand it’s not about taking the American flag and patriotism out of Halifax County High School.”

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So which one am I supposed to be offended by? Was it a slight to America and patriotism by changing the name or were they making fun country folk and ebonics with an intentional misspelling. Please provide further clarification on how I can be offended too.


Why would anyone be offended ?? Who could possibly be offended by the cancellation of AMERICA DAY ??!! Maybe Americans ?? As a leader, Mr Lewis should be instilling pride and patriotism into these students, instead of suggesting that they just be wacky.


Great job CS. Now tacky is offended.


Colin Kaepernick is just another loser communist wearing that loser Fidel Castro on his t-shirt and promoted by the loser communists in media trying to promote race wars. Out of 316,000,000 citizens 258 black people were shot by police in 2016. Unarmed black men shot by cops in 2016 totaled 39. That's right, you read it correctly THIRTY-NINE UNARMED.


Now even one unarmed black or white is horrible and should be investigated. But to wear socks depicting cops as pigs and kneel in protest at the National Anthem? I've got an idea for Colin. Since you're unemployed now and the city of Chicago has had 519 homicides so far(not by police) in 2017 why don't you move there join the police force and show Officer Quincy Smith how to tell if a black man or any other man is armed and when to use deadly force.
Please do let the facts get in the way of a communist insurgency.


To the kids at the high school. No matter what the adults with a political agenda tell you, remember this. There is white privilege and black privilege. I hope and pray every one of you is blessed with it.


A suggestion for next year... Since we are the UNITED States of America, how about having a "Unity Day!"


And know this. No one is infallible and every one is more than a few sound bytes. Seek the truth and know that sometimes it will come from where from where you may least expect it.


The story didn't tell the part of why it was changed. Students were going to wear confederate flags in protest as well as some students were wearing all black in a different protest. So because the children were trying to make it an issue, it was changed.


They changed the day because of what some perceive as offensive. Example all whites are being told they have white priviledge. This is offensive and racist but whites cannot claim racism its politically incorrect. The gimme gimme crowd falsely believes everyone owes them. the race card has been played out. How many players on friday will take a knee? Ask them what they are protesting. Ask why no one is kneeling in chicago, dc, la and other liberal cities where blacks ar slughtering each other. They have no moral high ground on this faux protest meant to derail and preoccupy the Trump admin.


Are Confederate Flags ( or any other images that may be deemed offensive ) allowed to be worn to school at any time ? I do not have children so I have to assume that all offensive and controversial clothing is already banned. So that argument is invalid and that problem was solved before it ever became a problem.

PS : Sorry Wacky Tacky, did mean to offend. Lol

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