WOODBOURNE, NY - SEPTEMBER 20: Children recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the school day at the federally-funded Head Start school on September 20, 2012 in Woodbourne, New York. The school provides early education, nutrition and health services to 311 children from birth through age 5 from low-income families in Sullivan County, one of the poorest counties in the state of New York.
Then calm replaced nerves and, almost as quickly as it had started, it was done.
Kapatayes is one among a couple dozen members of the student-initiated Cultural Arms Club, which seeks to "destroy the barriers, embrace the cultures" that exist at not just Rocky Mountain High School, but also within the community. Members in November recited the Pledge in Spanish, sparking intense debate about whether saying the words of the Pledge in any language other than English was unpatriotic.
Despite "rude" comments from classmates who disagreed with the November recital and anticipated "resistance" this week, Cultural Arms Club members decided to go forward with translating the Pledge into Arabic. They have plans for translating it into American Sign Language, Korean and possibly Chinese.
"No matter what language it's said in, pledging your allegiance to the United States is the same in every language," said sophomore CAC member Skyler Bowden.
Echoed fellow member and sophomore Luis Reyes: "It's going to open doors to other people's cultures. It's going to make Rocky a more diverse place."
Within hours of Kapatayes' recital, the school had received feedback from unhappy parents. And while she expected the club might hear complaints, Kapatayes hadn't, by Monday afternoon, heard negative reaction from peers.
"I hope people will see it not as a negative way, not an offensive way," she said, "but as a way of accepting diversity and accepting the people of diverse backgrounds."
Ninth-grader Deja Mullenix, 14, didn't agree with the club's actions, saying, "It's kind of a sensitive topic."
Classmate Eric Stauffer, a 14-year-old ninth-grader, thought it "was actually pretty cool," adding: "Tell the Cultural Arms Club, good job."
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