THS AFJROTC Corps Commander Cadet Lt. Col. Cameron Johnson led the ceremony, while Cadets Azaria Bell, Shemekia Clark, and Jackson Mims made up the color guard. THS band member, Samuel Watts played “To the Colors” as the flag was raised and “Taps” as it was lowered to half-staff. THS was honored to have in attendance Troy Rich, Thomasville Chief of Police and Tim Connell, Thomasville Fire Marshal.
But what about the other 179 days of the school year? Diligent groups of students and the teachers that lead them are responsible for the proper raising and lowering of the flags at several Thomasville City Schools.
Five fifth graders at Scott Elementary were organized by teacher Adrienne Angry: Tyler Carr, Eddie Coleman, Isaiah Jones, Chanel Mascoe, and Jaylen Thurman.
Carr says that it’s important to be a part of the flag team because it shows respect for the flag and respect for the United States of America.
“You have to be really responsible to be a part of the flag team,” added Mascoe.
Students not only practice discipline in these groups but also learn proper etiquette for handling and displaying the U.S flag.
“I learned that a flag should not be left out in the rain, and that it should not be allowed to touch the ground,” said Jones.
Jerger Elementary’s flag team, organized by Allison Dewell and Debbie Griner, is made up of four rotating teams of four: Team 1- Mac Hunt, Rudra Patel, Ethan Griffin, Cazyah Dyson; Team 2 - Sellers Newman, Adanya Smith, Emma Gebel, Bryce Rieck; Team 3 - Connor Pringle, Nick May, Bella Kitchens, Izzy Ward; and Team 4 - Madison Clark, Ella Parker, Clair Jones, Brando Baggett.
Hunt explained that he now knows that if the flag is hung upside-down that it means ‘distress’ and that it must be lowered to half-staff to honor those who have died.
For others, they decided to participate for simple reasons.
“I joined the team because I wanted to learn something new, and I like helping my school,” said Patel.
“I just like trying new things, and it’s really cool to handle the U.S. flag,” said Dyson.
Alan Maples takes pride in his flag team at MacIntyre Park Middle School: Cameron Criswell, Nyriannah Forbes, Aidan Hunt, Kaneija Russ, Brekya McCray, Alyssa Morabito, Noah Snipes, Kemyah Tucker, and Shakyra Walker.
Russ is the student-leader of the group, and aspires to join AFJROTC when she reaches high school.
“I love the marching part of it,” said Russ.
Russ also recalls that she, at one time, was the only girl on the team and thought if she enjoyed it, maybe some other girls would enjoy it, too.
“Kaneija inspired me to join and then I inspired Kemyah [Tucker] to join,” said Walker.
Several students reported using the skills that they have learned on flag team in settings beyond school.
“We raise the flag at home, and my dad was really proud when I found the group and learned even more about it,” said Morabito.
A small group of students have taken on the Scholars Academy daily flag duty according to Gina Bennett: Whit Fennell, Rhys Garland, and Brayton Hanna.
Fennell said that he wanted to do something for his school and independently learned about flag protocol and practiced folding the flag. He soon discovered that it wasn’t a “one-man” job to keep the flag from touching the ground, so he asked Garland and Hanna to join in the responsibility.
“I really have to be at school or else I have to let someone know that I won’t be here, or it might not happen,” said Fennell.
In addition to rotating the flag duty throughout their organization, THS AFJROTC cadets teach flag protocol to younger cadets and at local churches and elementary schools.
Jarrett Daniel said that he has taught freshmen cadets the symbolism of raising and lowering our nation's flag.
“To me it's all about being a symbol of guidance. Many people look at our school's flag when they drive by, and I get to be privileged enough to know I am a part of their experience,” said Daniel.
Jack Wood explained that he raises and lowers the flag because he believes in representing his country to the best of his ability.
“I've taught the freshmen because I believe in passing that on,” said Wood.
Jordan Bonar contends that he raises and lowers the flag to start his day productively.
“Raising the flag is one of the first tasks completed signifying the start of the day and the hope that many more tasks will be completed. Raising the flag is like raising the spirits of my peers for that day and many more to come,” said Bonar.
Shemekia Clark, who served on the color guard at the THS Patriot Day ceremony, reiterated the basic purpose of her position.
“Raising and lowering the flag means respecting our country,” said Clark.