On Monday evening, local resident Marilyn Secco questioned members of the St. Marys Area School District Board of Directors for a second time regarding the playing of the national anthem at various school district-sponsored events, including athletics.
Secco initially aired her concern on the issue at a January school board meeting. At that time, she questioned why the national anthem was not played during junior high and elementary sporting events, stating she believed it should be played at all grade level events in order to provide a learning opportunity for students.
Although she could not attend February's meeting when Terry Straub, SMASD activities director, addressed the issue and provided information about the topic, Secco obtained information through newspaper articles about what Straub had said.
"We had to survey other school districts about it? Just to pat ourselves on the back because we are doing more than they do. I don't agree with that. I think we should be doing what is right," Secco said. "Training has to begin with young children and not wait until high school."
"My concerns stem from what I have observed," Secco said, adding that she has witnessed people eating food during the playing of the national anthem.
She noted that the national anthem was never even played during a track and field meet which she attended in Johnsonburg.
"Nobody even missed it. That's what bothers me," Secco said.
At the February meeting, Straub presented information from a survey which he conducted among neighboring school districts. Unlike surrounding districts, St. Marys plays the national anthem at junior high events, typically prior to the start of eighth grade competitions. It is also played at multiple elementary-level games, prior to the start of the final game, as well as at varsity games.
Secco said if she attends a junior varsity event and does not stay for the varsity matchup, when the national anthem is played, then she will not have heard it at the junior varsity event.
"It is less than a minute, why can't we have a little more patriotism in our school district? Why can't our school children stand out to show what a patriot is?" Secco asked.
Secco's granddaugther and SMAHS alumni, Rachel Wolfel, was also in attendance at the meeting. Wolfel is currently serving in the United States Air Force and stated she was in agreement with her grandmother's thoughts.
"Playing the national anthem is an act of patriotism. It only takes a few seconds to show a sign of respect for those who have sacrificed and are serving our country," Wolfel said.
Wolfel added that many elementary students do not know why we play it and more emphasis needs to be placed on that.