America Day debate wraps up in Ft. Collins, but confusion persists
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The controversy over observing “Merica Monday” at Fort Collins High School seemed to have come to a amicable end Monday morning – though it appeared that the sides still didn’t quite understand each other.
About 100 people gathered along Timberline Road Monday morning to wave American flags and sing the National Anthem in honor of “America Day.” The problem, several people told the Fort Collins Coloradan, was “all sorted out.”
So what was the issue?
The debate began last week when FCHS administrators told students that the school would not celebrate “Merica Monday” as part of a themed dress-up week.
Staff cited concerns over the word “ ‘Merica.” The terms “ ’Murica” and “ ’Merica” are often used on the Internet to mock blind nationalism and poke fun at uneducated or rural people. School officials were understandably concerned that the event would be seen as making fun of some in the Fort Collins Community.
“Administration discussed concerns about the negative connotations of the term Merica with regard to being inclusive to the entire student body,” the Poudre Valley School District said Thursday. “At that time, FCHS administration agreed to My Country Monday, but later reversed the decision.”
The FHS and PSD statement about “Merica Monday” released on Monday apparently “offended members of the FCHS Student Council,” the district said.
Thursday both sides met and talked about the issue.
“Everyone agreed that both sides had the best of intentions but missed opportunities and miscommunication caused the situation to escalate,” the district said in a statement. “Additionally, everyone agreed that all parties involved are proud of their country and this situation is not an indication that anyone involved is unpatriotic.”
Students have said they knew the meaning of ‘Merica, but did not intend for the event to be offensive.
“To me and most adults, the term (‘Merica) is extremely disrespectful to our beloved country,” FCHS parent Maria Ortiz said Monday. “(The teacher in question) explained to the students why the word was inappropriate. He never said the students couldn’t have a patriotic or America day.
“Outlets have run with this story and pegged FCHS staff as being unpatriotic and corrupt. The only corruption I saw this morning was a large group of ‘supporters’ (protestors) standing in the way of my daughter going to school,” Ortiz said.
Sadly, the point of the event — by any name — was supposed to be philanthropy. This week’s celebrations are designed to unify the student body and raise money for nonprofit Respite Care, which serves developmentally disabled children.
One young woman told the Coloradoan she was “kind of bummed” that the focus had shifted.