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October 19, 2017

9/29/2017 10:20:00 AM
Statement of Superintendent Eric Witherspoon

Dear ETHS students, staff & families - 

At Evanston Township High School, we teach civic education so our students have a fundamental understanding of our democracy and citizenship in a free society. We teach our students about our system of government and the Constitution of the United States. They learn that they live in a country where freedom of speech, freedom of expression, is valued and protected, and that they can express their own opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or societal sanction. 

Students of Evanston Township High School have the right of free expression and association and the privacy of one’s own thoughts and opinions. If a student chooses to remain seated or kneel during the National Anthem, our existing practice allows students to express their First Amendment right to free speech so long as it does not significantly disrupt the learning environment. 

Together, with these rights, ETHS students also have certain responsibilities, including the responsibility to participate at school in creating change or getting involved in topics that affect them. At tonight’s varsity football game, I shared the following statement prior to the playing of our National Anthem, which included words from our students about issues that have impacted them and provide context for their recent decisions to express their First Amendment rights. 

Our students are on their life journeys as they learn and grow into informed, productive citizens who will continue throughout their lifetimes to enhance our nation, strengthen our democracy, and make this world a better place. These are our future leaders and the future looks bright. 


Eric Witherspoon, Ph.D. Superintendent


Good evening. Many of our students have expressed their personal feelings, fears and anxiety about recent events across our nation, events vividly underscoring that people have suffered, been hurt and died in our country due to hatred, racism, bigotry and ignorance. Tonight I am sharing my statement and the thoughts of our ETHS students who have had a vital role in preparing this statement. Much of this message is their voice combined with my voice, and I thank them for their leadership on these issues that are so important to us all. 

At Evanston Township High School, we are a family of learners, people of all races and of many cultures, languages and traditions, who support social and racial justice. We strive daily to create a safe environment at our school and communicate our anti-racist beliefs and democratic principles where we embrace the ideals of justice and equity for all. 

Recently, we have seen an overwhelming amount of Americans taking a stance on racial injustices happening throughout our country. Many Americans have used their platform to bring the conversation on race in America to the forefront. While many have confronted these issues, it is critical that we continue the conversation. We must work as a community to combat systems of oppression aimed at our Black, Latino, Muslim, Refugee, Immigrant, and LGBTQ+ communities. America was founded on the ideals that promise life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to everyone. It is imperative that we work to make sure that promise is fulfilled. We must continue to fight for equality. We must continue to love. We must continue to speak out on injustices wherever they exist. 

Tonight, we ask you to join us and our entire ETHS family as we reflect on and support those and their loved ones who have been discriminated against and victimized by micro-aggressions, hate speech, violence, bigotry, racism or any other forms of profiling, stereotyping or hatred.  Please, together, let’s pause for a moment of silence. 

(moment of silence) 

Thank you. And now, would you please stand for our national anthem.


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