Principal to students about the anthem: ‘You are to stand and you are to be quiet’

Ryan Nemeth
Ryan Nemeth

A Collier County high school principal is making headlines after he told his students they must stand during the national anthem.

Ryan Nemeth, the principal of Lely High School in Naples, addressed the student body Monday, WINK News reported.

“Let me be crystal clear: When that anthem is being played, you are to stand and you are to be quiet,” Principal Ryan Nemeth said during the school’s morning announcement show, according to the station.

By Thursday, the school district said the principal’s comments were taken out of context, according to NBC2.

The principal’s message comes after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem last month in protest against social injustices.

Kaepernick’s move has sparked debate across the country — some decrying the act as disrespectful and others jumping on the bandwagon. A Reuters poll released Wednesday indicated that most Americans thought Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem was unpatriotic, but defended his right to free speech, as protected by the U.S. Constitution.

At the Miami Dolphins opening game Sept. 11 in Seattle, four Dolphin players led by Arian Foster took a knee during the anthem. And USA Today reported Thursday that Megan Rapinoe, a member of the U.S. women’s national soccer team, knelt during the national anthem before playing Thailand, the first active non-black professional athlete to support Kaepernick.

For students at Lely High, not standing and being disrespectful could result in them being expelled from the game, Collier County’s NBC2 reported.

Adrianas Pena, a member of Lely high’s basketball team, told NBC2 that the new policy was harsh.

“He shouldn’t be ejecting people just because they don’t wanna stand,” she told the station. “Everybody has their voice to say something with it.”

Parent Karen Miller, on the other hand, told NBC2 she thinks the policy is fair.

“I’ve told my children that they will stand and respect the flag,” she said. “You are on school property. If this is the school policy, then you need to follow the school policy.”