Opinion:  Moment of Silence is Anything But


After the daily pledge of allegiance, the Longfellow News Show anchors instruct students to maintain a minute of silence.  Though they thoughtfully include videos of serene scenery and contemplative music, the room is generally anything but quiet.

The reason for the minute of silence is Virginia’s “minute of silence” law, which requires children to begin the school day with a minute to “meditate, pray, or engage in silent activity.” 

According to FindLaw, a legal education website, the law was challenged in July 2001, but a panel of the 4th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals “upheld the constitutionality of the law, noting that it ‘introduced at most a minor and nonintrusive accommodation of religion’ and, because it allowed any type of silent reflection, served both religious and secular interests.”  

“I think the moment of silence is a time to be peaceful,” said 7th grader Gisele Z.

It is meant to be an opportunity to take some time out of your busy life to slow down, pause, and reflect — even for just a few minutes.  However, that is often not the case.  In practice,  students tend to talk to their friends despite being asked to stay quiet. 

“Everyone in my class talks during the moment of silence; I don’t think anyone really cares,” explained another 7th grader Lilly C. 

Factors that may be affecting this tradition include both the change of timing (from the start of the school day to Lancer Time) and the addition of music.  At the start of the day, students are typically quieter and still pulling together their thoughts on the day.  This makes first thing in the morning a better time for reflection.  In addition, the music being played in the background during the moment of silence can be distracting for students and makes them think maybe they can talk without getting caught.  

People use their moment of silence for different reasons, but if followed, it gives an opportunity to start the day with a peaceful mindset.  Unfortunately,  the actions of those who refuse to stay silent make that moment of peace near impossible for some. 

“I don’t think it is necessary to use a minute of our time to just sit,” said Leyat N., who also described her Lancer Time as largely ignoring the directive.   While she often takes the time to read a book quietly, she doesn’t really see the point.

The Moment of silence is a time that everyone should respect, like the pledge.  Even if you don’t want to say the pledge, students should respect those who do and the laws of the state that require this ritual to be followed.  But in order for that to happen, more school-wide buy-in is necessary.