“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America …”– its something most students around the nation recite every morning. But do they really understand the true meaning behind the lines that honor our great nation?
Teachers all around the state have been sending in videos of their classes reciting the pledge. One Medina Elementary School teacher sent in a version of The Pledge of Allegiance that was different from the others.
Jessica Schlecht is a 4th and 5th-grade math and science teacher. She has been teaching her students The Pledge of Allegiance all in sign language.
“Well at first when they would come in they would stand with their hand on their heart and kind of rush through it and mumble it … it didn’t mean anything to them,” says Schlecht. “And I was like ‘No … 5th grade we learn about United States history, we really need to understand what it is we are saying and why we are saying it.'”
For about four years now, Schlecht has taught her students how to recite The Pledge of Allegiance all in sign language. She says using their hands really helps them realize the true meaning the pledge has to our country,
“For example, America where we have all these different people and all these different cultures coming together to this amazing place. And America we are going in a circle. That circle never ends. So just all these amazing people coming together, the United States of America,” says Schlecht.
It’s been about a month since she first began teaching her new students, but she says most everyone has it down now.
5th grade student Dawson Cassula says, “It was really hard to learn because I knew a bit of sign language, but not a lot.”
“My experience was actually really easy. My first time learning it was kind of difficult. But I think it’s really fun,” says 5th grader Destiny Opp.
While it was easier for some kids to learn than others, they tell me it has meant a lot to them to be able to understand the message behind it all.
“Well it means a lot because then I can learn more about America and it helps me get through high school, in college, and probably when I get a job,” says Opp.
Cassula adds “It means to me like I am coming to learn more about the country that my grandparents and my mother was born in so to learn more about the United States and all that and all that is happening and learning the United States history.”
Schlecht tells me she has been seeing a big difference in her student’s attitudes now that they can sign it.
They are proud of themselves for knowing the signs. It’s so unique especially up here in North Dakota. You don’t get a lot of that exposure and different things and different cultures and different ways of doing things and so for them to be able to sign the pledge and be like ‘I can do that, that’s so cool,'” says Schlecht.
We still want you guys to send in your pledge videos and you can do that via Facebook or sending it to the email firstname.lastname@example.org.