Damascus Principal Wants to Keep the Conversation Going Following Watkins Mill Players’ Silent Protest (VIDEO)


Watkins Mill players take a knee during Friday night’s game at Damascus. PHOTO | Phil Fabrizio

The principal of Damascus High School, Jennifer Webster, has written another letter to Damascus High School parents and students about the National Anthem and local silent protests at high school football games, and she wants to keep that conversation going.

On Sept. 14, she addressed the Damascus community in an open letter where she encouraged respect for others.

Her Sept. 18th letter also stresses the importance of respect and comes just two days after the majority of the Watkins Mill High School’s football team took a knee Friday night at the football game at Damascus.

“The Watkins Mill players’ silent protest Friday night has started a bigger conversation that must continue so that we can deepen our understanding of one another,” wrote Webster. “I urge those who are expressing their thoughts on social media to be thoughtful and responsible in your postings. Let’s maintain a sense of civility and respect for one another that will allow us to really hear each other on the issues related to the silent protests.”

During an interview with MyMCMedia, Webster said she wants to keep this conversation going at her school because there are so many lessons to be learned. She said teachers and administrators are meeting with juniors and seniors in small groups to discuss all sides of the issue. According to Webster, she has not been notified of any Damascus athletes taking a knee during the National Anthem to date. She added that the football players are not on the field during home games when the National Anthem is played.

On MyMCMedia’s Facebook page Friday night, dozens of people commented on both sides of the issue. Webster said students are talking about the Watkins Mill players protest on social media and those posts are why she thinks the conversation needs to continue at school. She said the issue showed up on social media  immediately after the first Watkins Mills players’ silent protest at their first game against Gaithersburg.

Not surprisingly, Webster said students have mixed views on this issue.

Several Montgomery County Councilmembers have also expressed differing views on this topic.

When asked what he thinks of the student athletes taking a knee, Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal said he thinks young people should be encouraged to express their views on current events in society. “I think that it is a healthy thing for young people to be aware of what is going on in society and to express their views,” said Leventhal. “To express opposition to injustice that indicates to me that they are going to grow up and be caring and conscientious adults.”

Montgomery County Councilmember Sidney Katz said it is not something he would do personally.  “I believe this is a teachable moment,” said Katz. “The fact that they can even take a knee shows how great America is.”

At her weekly news briefing with reporters, County Council President Nancy Floreen was asked for her thoughts on the issue. “I think it is regrettable,” Floreen said. “I think when you are part of a team like that you should respect the standard processes, but people have first amendment rights.”

You can read Webster’s letter in its entirety, below:

Sonya Burke

About Sonya Burke

Sonya Burke is the Multimedia Manager at Montgomery Community Media (MCM). You can email story ideas at sburke@mymcmedia.org or reach her on Twitter @SonyaNBurke.


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