Journal Inquirer

Sept. 16, 2016

MANCHESTER — With some NFL players creating controversy by refusing to stand for the national anthem, a video of East Catholic High School’s football team displaying the lyrics has been viewed thousands of times.
In the video posted on the school’s Facebook page, East Catholic football players are shown holding handwritten signs with the lyrics of the “Star-Spangled Banner” as the song plays in the background.
“Not standing for the national anthem? Not at East Catholic High School,” says the post’s caption. “‘Like’ and ‘share’ if you believe everyone should respect the anthem and the men and women who serve our country. God bless you and God bless America!”
Posted Sunday, Sept. 11, the 15-year anniversary of the largest terrorist attacks in the U.S., the video concludes with two players standing parallel wearing numbers nine and 11.
The video was mentioned in national media, including USA Today, and has been seen more than 60,000 times, been shared over 1,100 times, and received 1,600 “likes” and 122 comments on Facebook since it posted Sunday afternoon.
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers quarterback, on Aug. 14 sat during the song to protest social injustices in the United States. Players from at least six other NFL teams have taken similar actions when the anthem is played at the start of each game, choosing to sit, kneel, or raise their fists.
East Catholic’s video, however, is more educational than a political statement, said Thomas Maynard, the school’s interim principal.
“I won’t say it took us completely by surprise, but its controversial nature was a little bit more than we had anticipated,” Maynard said.
Students experimenting with filming and video editing are using the school’s enhanced media center that resulted from the school’s 13,000-square-foot addition to accommodate a new math, science, and technology wing.
As part of their video literacy curriculum, students decided to take part in the national discussion over the anthem, he said.
While the school covers social justice “very well,” Maynard said, the educational experience was the project’s focus.
“We are a Catholic school not a political organization,” he said. “I think we have found ourselves in more controversy than we intended to do.”
Maynard said students are not required to stand for the national anthem, noting they stand for prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance every morning.
“We are focused on encouraging students,” Maynard said. “When you get students who are running with something you feel like you are doing your job and they’re learning,” he said.
The school’s latest video is not the school’s first viral production.
In December, East Catholic produced a rebuttal video to “pray-shaming” in the wake of a shooting in San Bernardino, California, that killed 14 people.
As the national discussion took place over the efficacy of praying for those killed, students created a two-minute video holding signs asking viewers to “bring God and prayer back into our lives.”