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San Marcos High School ~ Santa Barbara, CA

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Morning Acknowledgements

Baylie Bingham
Commissioner of Communications Zara Yossem-Guy reads the morning announcements including a land acknowledgment.

Each morning, at the beginning of second period, Commissioner of Communications Zara Yossem-Guy reads the morning announcements along with the Pledge of Allegiance. However, in recent weeks, the morning announcements have looked slightly different; instead of the Pledge of Allegiance being recited, a land acknowledgment has been read. This switch was first made in mid-November, coinciding with Native American Heritage Month, and will remain in place for the foreseeable future. 

According to the National Museum of the American Indian, “Land acknowledgments are used by Native Peoples and non-Natives to recognize Indigenous Peoples who are the original stewards of the lands on which we now live. Land acknowledgments can be spoken at the beginning of public and private gatherings, from school programs and sporting events to town halls.”

By reading a land acknowledgement, we recognize that the land on which our school is located belonged to the Chumash people first. 

This change was also a response to the choice many students make to not stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. 

“I did notice that the Pledge doesn’t resonate with a lot of people, like myself,” said senior Zara Yossem-Guy. “At the time when I first starting doing the announcements, I was in a government class and my teacher let me know that a lot of people don’t stand for the Pledge, and I was already talking about doing a land acknowledgement, so it kind of just came to be with a lot of student input and my own.”

While it may seem like a big change to some, the idea of reading land acknowledgements is not new to San Marcos. In past years, a land acknowledgement has been read during the morning announcements for the duration of Native American Heritage Month. Additionally, some teachers read land acknowledgements to their students before class starts. Ethnic Studies teacher Maria Lorenzano reads a land acknowledgement once a week, usually on Monday. 

This is a way of grounding my class and has become routine,” said Ms. Lorenzano. “I think it is important to acknowledge to raise awareness about the historical and ongoing presence of Indigenous peoples, acknowledge the colonial history of the land, and show respect for Indigenous cultures and contributions.”

Two years ago, a petition to include a land acknowledgement in the morning announcements year-round was created by the San Marcos Ethnic Studies Club. The petition garnered over 100 signatures from both students and staff, and Ethnic Studies Club members were in talks with administration about making the change.

“When we started circulating the petition, it originated from a lack of cultural competence in our school’s activities and programs,” said Ethnic Studies Club President senior Kavya Suresh. “With the land acknowledgement finally being included in the morning announcements, it gives me a sense of optimism that current school administration values urgency and initiative. It also gives me hope that we, as a campus, are taking more active steps towards cultural sensitivity and inclusivity.” 

With this encouragement from the Ethnic Studies Club as well as collaboration between Zara and Principal Holdren, the land acknowledgement was implemented. A land acknowledgement or fact about the history of Santa Barbara will be read three days a week, and the Pledge of Allegiance will continue to be read two days a week.

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About the Contributors
Noelle Cabrera, Editor in Chief
Noelle is an 12th grader at San Marcos High School. This is her fourth year on The King’s Page and she is now the Editor in Chief. Journalism is currently her favorite class and she is also a member of the San Marcos Ethnic Studies Club. Outside of school she volunteers with animals, is a member of the Youth Making Change Board and is in the Santa Barbara Chapter of GenUp.
Baylie Bingham, Sports & Social Media Editor
Baylie is a junior at San Marcos High School. This is her third year doing the King's Page, first as a staff writer, then as graphics editor, and now as sports editor as well as social media. She loves to write about politics, the environment, and local events in both San Marcos and Santa Barbara as a whole.
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