At Wolf Creek Elementary School in Broken Arrow, Okla., Principal Ron Beckwith wanted to join the national surge of patriotism that has followed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"I just felt it was a positive message for the school and for Broken Arrow," said Mr. Beckwith.
Across the country, schools are displaying similar patriotic slogans and symbols. Meanwhile, schoolchildren are reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in greater numbers and with renewed spirit, educators report. And in some public schools, more students are gathering for prayer sessions.
While most such activity went mostly unquestioned in the immediate days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, in more recent weeks there have been eyebrows raised in some communities about the propriety--and constitutionality--of some practices.
Some civil libertarians have quietly suggested that not every patriotic or religious response to the attacks in schools is the right, or legally sound, approach.
Those quiet suggestions have drawn loud and fierce counter-reactions in some communities. Many people argue that rules against mixing church and state should be different in a time of national crisis.
In Roxbury, N.J., Superintendent Louis Ripatrazone last month ordered two elementary schools to remove "God Bless America" signs to show respect for those with different religious views. The schools replaced them with the slogans "Stand Up for America" and "Proud to be an American."
After a strong backlash from local residents, however, Mr. Ripatrazone relented and allowed the schools to restore "God Bless America" to their signs.
In Tucson, Ariz., some parents objected to a sign that said simply, "Bless America." Who was blessing America, one parent asked school officials, if not God? After consulting with its lawyer, the Tucson district allowed God back on the theory that the slogan was primarily a patriotic message, not a religious one.
In Broken Arrow, meanwhile, school officials heard complaints from a few constituents about the display of "God Bless America," so they sought legal advice.