CRYSTAL LAKE – When 16-year-old Hunter Bloom brought a Confederate flag to Prairie Ridge High School on Tuesday for a U.S. History class project, he wore the flag tied around his neck for the rest of the day.
School officials told Hunter not to wear the flag in school again, he said, but he came back wearing it Wednesday, the day after a highly divisive presidential election.
“I brought in the flag to basically enlighten other students of my vision of the flag itself,” said Hunter, a junior. “And by doing so I enlightened the entire school when I walked down the hallway [wearing the flag].”
Hunter was asked to leave school Wednesday when he wore the flag again, he and his father Kevin Bloom said, and was told he would be suspended for a longer period of time if he wore it Thursday.
The class project was called “my vision,” Hunter said, and while he spoke to the class on his views on the Confederate flag and the meaning behind its colors and symbols, other students presented on topics such as gun control and abortion.
“I’m not a racist person,” Hunter said. “I just support pro-freedom, and I support independence and pride – and that’s what the flag stands for.”
Hunter said the Confederate flag shouldn’t be considered a distraction to students if there also are gay pride flags hanging in the school.
Kevin Bloom, of Crystal Lake, said his son decided not to wear the flag to school Thursday. Bloom said he understands why the flag could be offensive, but Hunter was not wearing it to be spiteful.
“I guess the bottom line is Hunter feels like if other things are allowed, why can he not have the flag?” Kevin Bloom said.
Kevin Bloom had not spoken with school administration as of Thursday morning.
When asked about Hunter’s suspension, District 155 issued a statement Wednesday saying: “On behalf of the district, our job is to make sure we maintain a safe and orderly learning environment, and we cannot comment on individual student disciplinary issues.”