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Boulder High group drops bid for Barack Obama High

Alan Gathright
Rocky Mountain News
Boulder, CO Colorado

BOULDER, Colorado ” Boulder High rules!

A student groups’ campaign to rename one of Colorado’s oldest high schools Barack Obama High after the new president fizzled today in the face of widespread opposition from students and residents of left-leaning Boulder.

“It’s become a lot more controversial than we wanted to. It’s garnered a lot of negative reactions,” said 16-year-old Ben Raderstorf, president of the school’s Student Worker Club, which drew national publicity when it proposed the idea Wednesday.



Raderstorf said the small student group has worked hard to grab news media coverage for the idea too, as their press release declared: “Honor the momentous achievement of his election as an African-American, inspire the community with his ideals of unity and hope, and reflect the progressive spirit that is shared by both Barack Obama and our school environment.”

“We were somewhat naïve about it,” Raderstorf said of the backlash.



The goal was to use the attention to stir up support among fellow students.

Instead, he said, other kids mistook them them for grandstanding media-mongers doing an end-run around the student body.

“A lot of people thought we were in it for the media coverage,” Raderstorf said, citing the long-time social protest group’s controversial stands in the past.



Raderstorf said he’s been flooded with criticism from his own community and around the country that it was premature to rename the 134-year-old school for a brand new president.

“The time frame felt very wrong to a lot of people, being that Obama hass merely been office for a couple weeks,” he said.

Student Worker members drew headlines ” and flack ” in September 2007 by unsuccessfully protesting the school’s daily ritual of students voluntarily saying the Pledge of Allegiance when it’s broadcast on the intercom.

They argued that the pledge’s reference to “one nation, under God” violated the separation of church and state. A dozen members went to the school courtyard and read their own version of the pledge as 100 fellow students watched.

The group offered a retooled pledge: “I pledge allegiance to the flag and my constitutional rights with which it comes. And to the diversity, in which our nation stands, one nation, part of one planet, with liberty, freedom, choice and justice for all.”


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