From blank wall to message for all


The 20x30ft flag displayed upon the B building, installed on Nov. 18, is one of the many ideas principal Tom Houts has brought to Downey High School during the 2011-2012 school years. “[The flag] will be the glue that sticks us together as a school,” Houts said.

Kimberly Dominguez, News Editor


A new nationalistic embellishment was installed Nov. 18 on the B-building in order to emphasize patriotism throughout DHS. According to principal Tom Houts, recent studies have shown that out of all the schools in California, Downey High had the most students going into The Marines.


When one thinks of the U.S., it is rather difficult not to get the mental image of an American flag, but this symbolic representation of the country means something different for all. Some see the flag and feel a sense of pride, freedom, unity, and strength.


“I can’t help but feel proud because I love the American flag and what it stands for,” Modern American History teacher Aaron Hobbs said. “Because it’s so big, you can’t help but think about what we, as a country, have been through.”


Others simply see the flag and think home, opportunity, and second chances. These feelings are sometimes taken for granted by American citizens that were born in this country. However, first generation dwellers in the U.S. see the flag and feel something a bit different.


“My parents brought me [to this country] for a better life and future,” freshman Arlet Rodriguez said. “The flag is something important because to me, it represents a new country that accepts me.”

For freshman Piero Caceres, the flag means work and a chance “to be someone in the future.”


All of these thoughts and feelings that come to mind are exactly what Mr. Houts hoped the students and staff would feel when faced with the flag that was recently placed on the huge, once blank wall of the B-building.


Upstairs in this building, there is a hallway of memories. This hallway proudly honors former DHS students that served for the country. Their black and white photographs are hung up in simple black frames.


“I feel that it was absolutely appropriate to have placed the flag on the B-building because of all the fallen Downey High alumni that are commemorated within the hallways of this building,” modern American history teacher Steve Judy said.


Mr. Houts even decided to order new tables and umbrellas in order to place them in the empty space next to the Hallway of Character, in front of where the flag is. This will be known as the Patriotic Quad. The pillars of character are relevant because they can be considered American values.


“We should all respect the flag because it stands for unity,” freshman Mohammad Khan said. “Whenever there is a problem in the country, we all come together as ‘one nation under God’.”


Some students still want to know exactly why the decision to get a huge flag was made.


After seeing how “cool” a big American flag looked on a building, while driving to work one morning, Mr. Houts called Buck Weinfurter, director of maintenance. Weinfurter is a retired lieutenant kernel for the Army; furthermore, he agreed to purchase and donate this twenty by thirty foot flag.


“I have gotten more comments on this flag than on anything else I’ve ever done in this school,” Mr. Houts said. “Honestly, I think the reason for that is because it represents so much for everyone, and it forces people to think about what it means to be an American citizen. It’s the glue that sticks us all together.”


Some students, nevertheless, feel that there are already enough flags at school—one in every classroom—and that standing for the Pledge of Allegiance every morning is enough patriotism. World history teacher Bryan Wierzchucki would definitely disagree with that.


“I am saddened by the lack of patriotism in the younger generations,” Wierzchucki said.


It is not only the students that are becoming less and less patriotic it is adults as well.


“The whole school needs to be more patriotic and that is why the flag is a good idea,” world history teacher Shaun Delhousy said.


High hopes are set for students and staff to become more patriotic and feel united under the presence of this new flag.


In honor of this, Mr. Houts has also created a little friendly competition.  He has been taking e-mails from students and staff who have sent slogans and quotes that go with the flag. Within the next two weeks, votes will be placed for the best quote or slogan. This selected quote will then be painted onto the wall under the flag. The winner will also receive a fifty dollar gift certificate.


The American flag is universal to all of U.S. residents even if the interpretation of it varies. From sea to shining sea, this country truly is seen as all of the above.