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Politically slanted video upsets Hudson Middle School parents

The School District of Hudson has issued an apology for showing a politically-slanted video to all Middle School students Wednesday, Sept. 25.

The 2009 video, billed as “Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher’s I Pledge Video” was shown to all Middle School students as part of “Peace One Day.” The event is designed to motivate students to make a difference in their world, be it locally, nationally or globally.

Toward the end of the four-minute-19-second video celebrities make known their strong support for Democrat President Barack Obama.

Initially those on the film “pledged” their support for many social issues, including the environment, preventing illness, stopping hunger, etc. At several points near the end of the video, however, participants sent strong political messages in support of President Barack Obama. Anthony Kiedis (singer with the Red Hot Chili Peppers) said “I pledge to be of service to Barack Obama;” As he said “Barack” he kissed his bicep and as he said “Obama” he kissed his other bicep. Demi Moore said she “pledged to be a ‘servant’ to our president.” Another participant wore an “Obama” shirt. The video ended with a sketch of the president.

The district posted an apology letter after receiving numerous complaints from parents. In the letter, Middle School Principal Dan Koch said in part, “The video conveyed a message that people serve the presidency when in fact our elected officials serve the people.”

The district’s apology letter:

On Wednesday, September 25th, Hudson Middle School recognized Peace One Day, an international event to build peace awareness. The Middle School has been participating in this event since 2009. According to Peace One Day organizers, the event has been recognized across the world by 280 million people in 198 countries.

The purpose of this event is to encourage Middle School students to make a difference in their world locally, nationally and globally; and to respect oneself, family, friends, community and the environment.

Student activities included viewing a brief Peace One Day video; introduction of school peace photo and poster contest; viewing the "I Pledge" video; an opportunity to make individual pledges to "speak in a kind way, help others throughout the day, care for our earth and respect people in every land;" and concluded with an annual school photo of students in the formation of a musical note exemplifying peace and harmony.

The Middle School and District apologize for the use of the "I Pledge" video. The reason the video was used was to show students small ways to make a difference in their communities. Most of the video provided viewers with examples like: end hunger in America; volunteer more; always represent your country with pride, dignity and honesty; and care for America’s elderly.

Unfortunately, the video also had a political slant. The District is non-partisan and does not endorse the political messages found in this video. This video will not be used in the District again.

Middle School Principal Dan Koch made the following announcement to students Thursday (Sept. 26) afternoon, "The ‘I Pledge’ video we viewed yesterday included some messages about serving President Barack Obama. We apologize for any part of the video that was offensive to students, their families and staff. The video conveyed a message that people serve the presidency when in fact our elected officials serve the people. We respect the Office of the President of the United States but like all of our other elected officials, that office serves each of us as well. I sincerely hope that as participants in Wednesday's event what you took away from the experience was to choose to make a difference in your world."

Although using the video was a mistake, the purpose of the event itself was to raise student awareness and encourage involvement in taking positive action in their schools and communities. We hope that the use of the video does not overshadow the value of the positive message of this event for our Middle School students.

Doug Stohlberg

Doug Stohlberg has been part of the Hudson Star-Observer since 1973 and has been editor since 1987. He worked at the New Richmond News from 1971 to 1973. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota.

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