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Administrators at a New York state high school are apologizing after the Pledge of Allegiance was recited in Arabic on Wednesday morning, offending some students and their families.
In a letter posted online, officials at Pine Bush High School in the hamlet of Pine Bush explained that students were supposed to give the pledge in different languages to celebrate National Foreign Language week. But they acknowledged the controversy that has divided students because the pledge was not done in English.
"We sincerely apologize to any students, staff or community members who found this activity offensive," the statement said. "In our school District the Pledge of Allegiance will only be recited in English as recommended by the Commissioner of Education."
Schools Superintendent Joan Carbone did not immediately return a request for comment to NBC News on Thursday, but she told the Times Herald-Record that state education department regulations mandate the Pledge of Allegiance be recited in English.
She also said she fielded complaints from residents upset that the reading was in Arabic, including from Jewish parents and those who said they lost family members in Afghanistan, the newspaper said.
Andrew Zink, Pine Bush's senior class president, normally reads the morning announcements, and told NBC News that he consented when a teacher asked another student to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic. There were talks about having the pledge read in Japanese, French and Spanish this week as well.
Zink, 18, said Thursday that he was "fired" from doing the morning announcements but was not told why. "Even if I had said no to having it read in Arabic, they might have just done it anyways," Zink said.
"But I chose to say yes because it was about making a point: What makes you American is not the language you speak, but the ideas you believe in," he said, adding that he would "do it again."