Students Carry on Pledge of Allegiance Tradition Virtually

It has been a long-standing tradition at Matthew Paterson Elementary to hear fourth grade student voices every morning leading the pledge of allegiance as part of the morning announcements.

Two students stand in front of a computer screen reading the pledge

“Since the students were kindergarteners, they have listened to the fourth graders say the pledge,” said Jaqueline Zulauf, fourth grade teacher. “They come into fourth grade excited and asking about the pledge. They know it's their year!”

“I’ve always wanted to do the pledge since kindergarten,” said fourth grade student Isabella DiBuono. “It’s a tradition and if we don’t do it then kids might think it was just a special thing for the fourth graders the year before!”

This opportunity is not only a rite of passage, but also a foundation in public-speaking skills and a confidence builder.

Speaking in front of people is difficult for anyone, even adults, and the students are sometimes nervous about doing this in front of the whole school.” said Zulauf. “We discuss that no one can see them, only hear them, so this definitely is a weight off their shoulders. Knowing they're not seen enables even our quietest of children to express themselves clearly and loudly without feeling embarrassed!”

When schools moved to full-remote learning last year, the teachers and staff jumped in to fill the void through recorded videos each morning. But, when schools opened again this year, they needed to find a way to keep the fourth-grade tradition ongoing.

“We asked ‘How are we going to continue this really important part of our school culture when the students can’t go into the main office?’,” said Catherine DeGloria, a teacher and member of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) team in the building.

The answer? Zoom.

To preserve the long-standing tradition and to give the fourth-grade students their moment in the spotlight, classes now Zoom into the main office each morning to be the voice of the pledge. While it used to be one or two students each morning, now one whole class takes the spotlight for a month before rotating to another class.
“This year has been very different, and it broke my heart to not have the students say the pledge,” said Zulauf. “So, we figured out a way!”