Saturday, February 29th, 2020
School's Trump flag removal order irks some
By William Kincaid
COLDWATER - Carrying out a proud agricultural tradition, FFA students paraded a convoy of tractors down North Second Street on Friday before pulling into the high school parking lot to celebrate FFA Week.
This year's FFA tractor drive-in, however, sparked controversy on social media and elsewhere, with some people expressing anger over FFA students being told to remove flags bearing the name of President Donald Trump once they parked on school grounds.
High school principal Jason Hemmelgarn was out of the district on Friday to attend the boys state bowling tournament at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl. However, he told the newspaper an FFA adviser had informed him that no issues occurred and that the students were very respectful in complying with a directive to remove the Trump flags from their tractors while they were parked on school grounds.
District officials posted a formal statement about the FFA event on the school's Facebook page.
"Before this morning's FFA activity, students made their advisor know of their intention to decorate their tractors with political messages. They were informed that while they are free to do so outside of this school activity (including as they drove down public roads to campus), once their tractors were on school grounds as part of the FFA event they were to remove these political decorations," the statement reads.
Students were advised to wear official FFA dress and that the purpose of this activity was to promote the FFA, farmers and agriculture, the statement continues.
"No students were told they would be suspended or that any activities would be cancelled in relation to this," the statement reads. "As with all voluntary student activities - whether it is a sport, an arts event, or some other club - the district does not allow political speech in favor of or against any candidate, party, or issue. Our voluntary student activities are open to all students and are meant to serve as uniting events for the school community."
Superintendent Jason Wood could not be reached for further comment.