Niskayuna Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, Jr., is issuing the following statement:
Given the events of the last week, after some of our student-athletes made a decision to kneel during the National Anthem at a football game, it’s clear that many in our community are passionate about this issue. We want to be clear that we respect the feelings of all and value an open and honest dialogue.
As we stated immediately following last week’s football game, all students have the right to express themselves in a peaceful and respectful manner. We are fortunate to live in a country where we are able to express our beliefs freely. Our view as a school district is that intolerance and incivility are not acceptable. We strive to strike the necessary balance in protecting students’ rights, ensuring a calm learning environment, and conveying our respect for the opinions of all members of our community.
There is a pep rally at Niskayuna High School today (Friday, Oct. 6). After careful thought and consideration by our administration and after meeting with members of our student body, it was decided that the National Anthem would not be played as it has been in the past. This is an event focused on school spirit and unity, and there was a concern that given the intensity of this issue and the diversity of viewpoints, that this event could turn what is supposed to be a positive experience for our students into a negative one.
While we know that many may disagree with this decision, we ask you to understand that our focus remains on making sure that our school is a safe and comfortable place for all of our students. The National Anthem and patriotism clearly have and always will have a place in our schools. That will not change. The National Anthem will be played before tonight’s football game, as always. Our many patriotic traditions will continue, including the annual Memorial Day observance and the continuous display of names of alumni who have served in the Armed Forces.
While the debate that has been going on in recent days is certainly not unique to our community, we all have a role in how it takes place here in Niskayuna and how it affects our students. We are doing our best to maintain our unity as a school community that puts students, learning, respect and civility above all else. This statement is about moving forward as a school community and an appeal to maintain a calm and respectful environment for our students. We ask for the cooperation of everyone in this endeavor.