Moment of silence isn’t silent anymore

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Story by Sydney Schoen, Staff Writer

It’s the same thing every morning.

“Now, it’s time for the pledge. Please stand.”

We all stand, half-heartedly placing our right hand over our heart. It may look like we’re at attention, but we’re stealing glances at our friends, mouthing words.

“Now, it’s time for the Texas pledge.”

Even lazier now, we extend our cupped hand. Most of us are leaning on tables. We’re over it.

“Please, pause for a moment of silence.”

It’s as if the opposite is said. We finish the rest of our conversation; the same conversation that was started when we were supposed to be saying the “Pledge of Allegiance.” The one moment we are allowed a day to pray, reflect, remember the ones fighting for us or have some peace is gone. Wasted.
***
I recall a discussion my class had in Ms. Cunningham’s room in the 1st grade. She reminded us that we attended St. James: a private school. We were accustomed to daily readings from the Bible and “Big Chapel” on Thursday. We also were expected to “leave the nest” in sixth grade, if not earlier. She explained that many of us would be entering the public school system, a thought that hadn’t crossed our innocent minds. We glanced at each other nervously, wondering if she was telling us a horror story. She continued, unaware of our anxiousness, by telling us that they (teachers in public schools) wouldn’t ask us to pray with them.

“Where will you pray?”

I awkwardly held my hand up.

“I would like to pray in the bathroom where it’s quiet.”

***

I entered public school in sixth grade and was completely oblivious to what the “Moment of Silence” was. I remember asking the student beside me and was shocked by his answer, “It’s when you pray.”

I ran with that idea. I lowered my head when the time came and made the Sign of the Cross when it was over. I realized rather quickly, however, that it was hard to concentrate on saying a “Hail Mary” when everyone around me was talking and trading answers. I didn’t understand. Didn’t everyone want that special time?

It’s important to note that my family doesn’t pray before every meal. We don’t pray a Rosary every night either. But we attend Mass every Saturday, Sunday school every Sunday, take prayer requests from those who need it, and we pray at night (sometimes not as much as we should). We try.

Now, I understand that the Moment of Silence is not just for praying, but for remembrance and reflectance too. But whatever your religious affiliation, or lack thereof, there still needs to be respect. Whether you choose to participate or not is irrelevant because there is certain to be someone that does. Just 30 seconds out of your day. That’s all I’m asking.

Having the Moment of Silence in our schools is especially important to me because there was a time in my life where I thought that that privilege would be taken away from me. Now, that I know that there is a specific time with, what is supposed to be, complete silence I can only think of one thing. No bathroom for me.