Audience pledges allegiance before new flagpole at Santa Barbara Junior High
A tall, handmade, wood flagpole has journeyed across America to stand proudly at Santa Barbara Junior High School.
The pole, which stands approximately 40 feet high, is a replica of one that previously stood at the historic school. On Tuesday — Flag Day — school officials, elected representatives and students pledged allegiance after school custodians raised the American flag for the first time on the Cota Street flagpole.
“It is stunning, and we’re so proud to have this complete our campus,” Principal Arielle Curry told the audience surrounding the flagpole.
Leading the pledge of allegiance were Nicole Buist and Isel Rodriguez, who attended Santa Barbara Junior High this past school year. Student Hayden Hernandez was there with them.
Then Dos Pueblos High School senior Audrey Harmand, a Teen Star finalist, poured her heart into singing the national anthem a capella. At one point, closing her eyes, she added some special jazz to a high note, prompting smiles and instant applause from the principal standing next to her and the rest of an appreciative audience.
“Let’s give her another round of applause,” Dr. Hilda Maldonado, superintendent of the Santa Barbara Unified School District, said afterward.
Dr. Maldonado told the audience that the flagpole was made in Keystone, N.Y. “It has made it across the country to be here today.”
She noted the flagpole and the American flag are symbols of the resilience and rebuilding process that is taking place during the stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Attending the ceremony was a special guest whom Ms. Curry asked to be there: Scott Cohen. He’s a good Samaritan who assisted Santa Barbara police with their investigation of vandalism that damaged the original flagpole. (The man responsible for the damage paid $27,000 in restitution for the new flagpole.)
Also at the ceremony were Gregg Hart and Das Williams of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors; and several Santa Barbara Unified School board members — Rose Munoz (president), Wendy Sims-Moten (vice president) and Kate Ford.
Elected officials and Mr. Cohen participated in the ribbon cutting for the flagpole, which Ms. Curry said arrived at the end of last week.
“There was so much talk that it was surreal to see it actually arrive,” Ms. Curry told the News-Press. She added that the flagpole is an ideal bookend to last fall’s completion of the school’s new multipurpose room.