The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


Flags taken down after complaints

No plans for flags to be rehung this school year
Marissa Fernandez
Students walk through the upstairs hallway which used to display flags above its lockers. All flags were taken down after a student ripped a Palestinian flag off of the wall.

All of the flags that lined the upstairs hallways were taken down after an incident with a student on March 4. 

“A student came in and ripped [the Palestinian flag] off the wall,” said Scott Williams, instructional supervisor of the Social Studies Department. “And when that happened, [I, the interim principals and Josh Morrel, instructional supervisor of the World Languages Department] decided that the best course of action right now is to remove all the flags.”

The Palestinian flag appeared on the wall in mid-February after a group of students had asked another staff member to hang the flag up, Williams said.

“When the [Palestinian] flag went up, our principals’ officealmostimmediately got multiple concernreports from Jewish students who saidthat the flag made them feel uncomfortable and unsafe,” Williams said.  

“We had to face the reality that if even a few students are left uncomfortable by the appearance of a flag on a wall, we have to take that seriously,” Williams said.

From the beginning of second semester this year, the school has received complaints from some students, citing different reasons and objections to various flags, Williams said. 

“So long before March fourth, we were discussing the fact that … maybe, at some point, these should all come down,” Williams said. 

“March fourth caused us to move up our timeline and say, ‘This needs to happen even sooner than we anticipated,” Williams said.

The flags previously in the hallways were part of a collection started by Jerome Hoynes, retired social studies teacher. There was no concrete policy regarding which flags would be hung.

“[Hoynes] had many flags that he had collected from his travels,” said Williams. “He [got] flags from his students . . . He had a lot of students from Poland, from Iran, from China, you name the place, and he would encourage them to bring their home flags to proudly display them on the walls.”

According to Morrel, as geopolitical events become a major focus of what students are listening to and looking at in the media, they are starting to want more information about these events, which has led to more conversations about the flags. 

“Students are asking more questions about the flags and wanting to learn about the flags … But I think we are starting to realize we need a deliberate, specific policy,” Morrel said. 

After being taken down, most flags have been returned to Hoynes. 

There are no plans for any flags to be put up again this school year, and there’s no current plan for what will go on the walls in the future, Williams said. 

“There’s a lot of different ways to do this,” said Williams. “You have to do something that fits the culture of the school, and you have to balance the mission of education with potential disruption to the school environment.”

About the Contributor
Marissa Fernandez, Executive Opinions Editor, Copy Editor
Marissa Fernandez (‘24) is the Executive Opinions Editor and a Copy Editor and has been a member of Torch since her sophomore year. Previous positions: Staff Writer (21-22), Opinions Editor (22-23), Copy Editor (22-23).