Alaska school board mandates moment of silence in district schools

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District passed Board Policy 6117 in a 5-1 vote at the Sep. 21 regular board meeting. (SOURCE: KTUU)
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 1:51 PM MST
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU/Gray News) - A school board in Alaska recently voted in favor of mandating a moment of silence during the first period of classes.

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District School Board voted in favor of a new board policy in a meeting on Wednesday, KTUU reported.

Board Policy 6117 mandates a moment of silence between one to two minutes at the start of each school day. The policy was introduced by board President Ryan Ponder in August.

“The School Board finds that in the hectic society of today, too few persons are able to experience even a moment of quiet reflection before plunging headlong into the activities of daily life,” the board policy draft reads. “Young persons are particularly affected by the absence of an opportunity for a moment of quiet reflection. The School Board finds that our youth, and society as a whole, would be well served if students in schools were afforded a moment of silence at the beginning of each school day.”

The policy states that the principals would require homeroom or first period teachers in all grades districtwide to set aside at least one minute, but no more than two minutes, of silence. During this time, students are not allowed to interfere with other students’ participation, and teachers are not allowed to suggest how a student chooses to utilize that time.

The proposal received the support of the majority of the school board, passing 5-1 when put to a vote Wednesday evening.

“The policy encourages parent involvement in their student’s day and has the opportunity for parents to discuss with their students something that they can reflect on once a day for 60 seconds,” Ponder said at the meeting.

District 6 member Dwight Probasco, who vocalized his opposition to the policy when it was introduced, was the sole vote against its implementation. He believes the policy cheapens that for which moments of silence are typically reserved for.

“Usually those are for special events, like Veteran’s Day, Memorial Days, or the death of an individual,” Probasco stated to the board. “I feel ... you do something like this every day, you devalue the value of it.”

When asked by Superintendent Dr. Randy Trani when the new policy would go into effect, Ponder responded that it would be no later than the start of the second quarter of this school year, which starts at the end of October.