Principal Pushes for Patriotism at Butler High School
New flag club to involve students, community members.
Walking the halls of Butler High School for the first time as principal this year, Martin Wall noticed something: many students were not stopping to pay respect to the American flag during the morning salute.
He asked teachers to talk to their students and immediately noticed a difference. He also became inspired to bring patriotism to a new level at the school and has been working with several Butler community organizations to bring a new club to the school to honor the country and its citizens.
First, he reached out the American Legion John A. Dean 154 and George P. Siek VFW 8096 posts, which offered to donate new classroom flags to about 50 classrooms in the school, as well as donate a large flag for the school library. The groups then began working together with the Butler Bulldogs booster club and Tri-boro Rotary to talk about forming a new club at the high school that would be responsible for handling, caring for and learning about a large flag that would be brought out at community events, football games and more.
"Large" is even an understatement for the flag Wall was originally considering. Wall said he had initially thought the school should purchase a football field-sized flag that was 300 feet by 150 feet. But he re-considered once he learned of all the details needed to care for it.
"It costs over $50,000, it weighs over 1,000 lbs.," he said. "It takes 250 people to carry it. So that was out of the question."
Adam Charman, commander of the local American Legion post, said the large flag would have been difficult for the students to handle. The groups decided on a smaller flag that was 30 feet by 60 feet and cost just under $2,000. This flag required 25-30 people to handle, which Wall said was the appropriate number of students to form the flag club. Charman said many of his members will be involved in the process of learning how to handle the flag as well, as they have never dealt with a flag of this size.
Now that the flag has been purchased through money earned in fundraising efforts, Wall said the intention is to get the students together several times this summer to meet with the local American Legion and VFW posts to learn how to handle the flag and be able to unveil it for the first time at the first football game of the season. The flag would be brought out at every football game and then be able to be used at community events, such as parades.
"It seems like any time I talk to somebody about it, the more and more ideas come up," Wall said.
Wall said the flag will not only be used to introduce the games, but also to honor a different local veteran each week or member of the community. Those being honored would also play a role in handling the flag.
"The flag unites everybody," Wall said. "It helps promote patriotism, it helps entice community spirit, it helps recognize people who have done things for our country and it gets our students involved."
The high school has been involved with local veterans in other ways this year as well. At Monday's Butler Public Schools Board of Education meeting, Wall presented Charman with a check for over $300 that was raised by students selling poppies the week leading up to Memorial Day.
"I think its a great thing when the students, the teachers and everybody gets involved," Charman said. "Personally, I think the towns need to get more involved in what their country's all about. They see a flag in different places every day, but when they're in a social event, like a football game in town, and they bring out the flag and run the team out with it, it inspires people."
Charman said the American flag has deep meaning to him and many of his fellow veterans.
"When we came home from overseas, the first thing you're looking for, the minute you step off the plane, the families are waving flags everywhere," he said. "It's a welcoming sight, brings tears to your eyes."