School bans yearbook photo of student with American flag draped over her shoulders, says ‘no props allowed’

SPOKANE, WASHINGTON – A high school in Washington state nixed a student’s chosen yearbook photo because the senior had proudly draped the American Flag over shoulders.

Sierra Athos wanted to show her love for her country, but the yearbook committee at Lewis & Clark High School asked her to submit another picture.

The photo shows Athos sitting on a ledge with the American flag wrapped around her and the soles of her shoes show red and white stripes, which resemble those on the flag.

On Thursday, September 10th, Athos received an email from the committee informing her of their decision and their guidelines for what they refer to as “Props.”

“Photos should be of you and only you. No family, friends, pets, watermark or props. Photos with those items will not be accepted.”

Athos made her displeasure with the ruling know in a Facebook post,

“The fact that I can’t have my senior picture in the yearbook because it contains the American flag in it amazes me. Are you kidding me right now? If the American flag offends you effing leave.

“I love the flag so I just wanted to represent that in the yearbook. 

“I think they are trying to bring politics into it which I don’t know why loving your country is political but I guess that’s what it is these days.”

Athos said in a statement to CBS affiliate KREM that in a difficult year, she’d been disappointed that she couldn’t use the photo she wanted.

“This year is already crappy enough because there is no prom, no homecoming, no dances, no in-person classes, no sports games, no seeing my friends everyday, no any normal high school things.

I at least wanted my senior picture of choice in the yearbook, but apparently that was too much to ask.” 

In a statement to Newsweek magazine, Lewis & Clark High School principal, Mary Beth Smith, referred to a statement posted on the school’s Facebook page on Wednesday, explaining why Athos’ photo was not accepted and that the school doesn’t discriminate against the American flag.

She also told Newsweek that she met with the yearbook adviser, Athos, and the student’s family to figure out another photo that can be submitted.  The full statement can be found below:  

“Quick point of clarification regarding senior pix. We do not and have not banned the American flag from inclusion in photos.

“In the past we have celebrated students who have enlisted in the military by using senior photos highlighting their branch of service – student in uniform and US flag displayed behind them. It’s been an honor to portray our seniors in this way.

“We have rejected a photo this year in which our American flag was displayed in a way not sanctioned by Title Four, US Code, Chapter One.

“We say the Pledge daily during school, we have our flag displayed in accordance with Code guidelines on our stage during all school events and we even have one of the largest US flags in this area in our gym – it is celebrated during the playing of our National Anthem prior to athletic competitions held there.

“We respect our flag as much as any school in the area and were concerned that in the photo submitted it was being used as a prop in the photo and was not being afforded appropriate regard.

“We continue to work through the matter with the student. Thank You.”

In the new photo that Athos submitted, the flag is in evidence beside her but she isn’t holding it nor is it draped over her shoulders. 

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True patriot: Police officer teaches football players how to properly fold the American flag

November 15, 2020

HILLARD, OH – A police officer in Hillard, Ohio took time out of his day to teach some high school Teens how to properly fold an American flag

Hillard Police Officer DiSaia was at Hillard Davidson High School after a football game and decided to teach some of the football players how to fold the flag correctly.  During the video, the officer is heard instructing the teens and encouraging them along the way, telling them that it was “really easy” to fold the flag.  DiSaia also said:

“If we did this right, the union stars should come out perfectly.”

Craig Pettit saw what was happening and decided to record it and share it on Twitter.  Pettit wrote:

“@Hilliard_Police Thank you Officer Disaia for teaching these players how to respect the flag!”

With all the negative news regarding law enforcement, it is really important that these moments are captured to show what police are really about, 99% of the time. 

Police are caring people who are there to help and serve their communities.  What better way to connect with the youth in this instance than by teaching them how to fold a flag, and in essence, explain the importance of it. 

The American Legion explains the importance behind properly folding the American flag and how it is based on religious principals that our country was founded upon.  They explain:

“The flag-folding ceremony represents the same religious principles on which our great country was originally founded.

“The portion of the flag denoting honor is the canton of blue containing the stars representing states our veterans served in uniform. The canton field of blue dresses from left to right and is inverted only when draped as a pall on the casket of a veteran who has served our country honorably in uniform.

“In the U.S. Armed Forces, at the ceremony of retreat, the flag is lowered, folded in a triangle fold and kept under watch throughout the night as a tribute to our nation’s honored dead.

The next morning it is brought out and, at the ceremony of reveille, run aloft as a symbol of our belief in the resurrection of the body.”

Further, the folds of the flag symbolizes:

“The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

“The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

“The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks, and who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

“The fourth fold represents our weaker nature; as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace, as well as in times of war, for His divine guidance.

“The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong.”

“The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

“The seventh fold is a tribute to our armed forces, for it is through the armed forces that we protect our country and our flag against all enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

“The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.

“The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.

“The 10th fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first born.

“The 11th fold, in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

“The 12th fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost.

“When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.”

“After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it has the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under Gen. George Washington and the sailors and Marines who served under Capt. John Paul Jones and were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the U.S. Armed Forces, preserving for us the rights, privileges and freedoms we enjoy today.

“The source and the date of origin of this Flag Folding Procedure is unknown, however some sources attribute it to the Gold Star Mothers of America while others to an Air Force chaplain stationed at the United States Air Force Academy. Others consider it to be an urban legend. It is provided as a patriotic service to all.”

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Author: Chris Walsh

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