San Ramon high school pulls national anthem from rallies

SAN RAMON, Calif. (KGO) -- There has been debate over the national anthem at an East Bay school. The student leadership at San Ramon's California High has pulled the Star Spangled Banner from school rallies and not everyone is happy about it.

"The rally started and it got going and I realized there was no National Anthem," said California High senior Dennis Fiorentinos, who said the omission of the song was unusual since rallies traditionally start with it.

RELATED: SF pastor, NAACP call for removal of national anthem

He was told the student leadership removed the song due to what many consider racist lyrics in the unsung verses.

In a letter to the school paper, Student Body President Ariyana Kermanizadeh specifically noted the third verse, which in part says, "no refuge could save the hireling and slave."

RELATED: Oakland Raiders players sit during national anthem

Kermanizadeh wrote, "This verse translated, finds joy in the killing of African-Americans. To think that our nation's anthem once had the word slave and 'land of the free' in the same sentence leaves me speechless."

But Fiorentinos has a different take. "The importance of singing the national anthem to honor and respect those who've died and sacrificed their lives and protect the freedoms that us Americans take for granted everyday is a much more important and unifying issue," he said.

Cal High has struggled with racial issues before. Two years ago, racist graffiti was found on campus, including the bathrooms where someone scrawled "whites" above one toilet, and "colored" above another.

But parents we talked with say the national anthem is sacred.

"How can you start any event without the national anthem," one said.

As for the district, a spokesperson says it just learned about the student leadership's position on the anthem and officials are looking into it.

Click here for more stories, photos, and video on the national anthem.
Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.