Social media pages in Northern Virginia exploded Thursday with conversation about a claim that a local high school refused to hold an "American-themed spirit day" because it was too political.
"Our Founding Fathers are rolling around in their graves. Sad," one Facebook commenter wrote.
But school administrators say they never refused to hold a day celebrating American patriotism; the student council simply chose different spirit days intended to boost morale before exams.
The uproar at Loudoun County High School in Leesburg, Virginia, began because of a misunderstanding, Loudoun County Public Schools spokesman Wayde Byard said.
"On social media this got totally out of control -- people jumping in with no knowledge of the situation, ascribing motives to the principal and others that simply weren't there," he said.
Student council members said they initially suggested holding a Freedom Friday, but the principal encouraged them to hold days they previously had not held.
A group of students who call themselves the Young Conservatives took to social media to accuse the principal of refusing to hold an American day.
"I believe the administration was a little bit too afraid that they might have offended somebody with American Day," said Conrad Briles, a member of the group.
Then, a senior at the high school, Daniel Eisert, wrote a letter published Thursday in the local newspaper LoudounNow saying members of the student council told him they "recently proposed to have an American-themed spirit day, but the school administration shot it down for being 'too political' and 'might cause bullying,'" he wrote.
"American patriotism should be fostered in our public schools rather than discouraged," he wrote.
He said via FaceTime on Friday that he was not trying to be divisive.
"I just wanted to show that being American is not a political thing and should not be," he said.
The school spokesman said the administration never rejected the suggestion to hold the spirit day.
"It was never turned down. It was never on the table," he said.
Members of the student council said they thought the backlash at school and on social media was unfounded and unfair.
"The potential for this to get crazy and out of proportion was really weighing on our minds. Someone could take a hold of this and make it a big story about how Loudoun County is unpatriotic, when that's completely false," student council member Kirby Howerter said.
In light of the controversy, the student council suggested declaring an impromptu "America Monday" spirit day on Monday, April 24. The principal approved the request.
"It will be a red, white and blue day, and we'll show our patriotism, just like we do on Veterans Day," Byard said.
The Young Conservatives said they were thrilled that students would wear red, white and blue on Monday. They said they make no apologies for their tactics.