The paltry American flag that flew pitifully atop a Sprint cell-phone tower planted in Eugene A. Clark Elementary School’s front yard has been replaced. The new flag, which teachers at the Petworth school say began waving a couple of weeks ago, appears to be at least 25 feet long and 10 feet tall—in keeping with American Legion standards for the 100-foot staff. “We make a joke about it—that we have the biggest flag in the nation,” says a teacher who asked to remain anonymous.
But the size of the banner hasn’t mollified teachers opposed to the cell-phone tower. “The size of the flag wasn’t our issue—it was that we were never approached or informed about the whole missile structure,” says the teacher. “As far as the explanation of where the money went—nada….It could be at Sam’s Club.”
D.C. Public Schools spokesperson Roxanne Evans, who didn’t return calls for this story, previously said that the school received about $5,000 under an April 2005 deal between the school system and Sprint. Sprint pays the school system $27,600 annually for use of the flagpole. Similar arrangements have been made at Burroughs Elementary in Brookland.
The giant flag and pole, though, do have supporters in the school community. Siblings Benjamin, 7, and Benjamina Coleman, 9, both give the structure a thumbs-up. “I think it’s cool. It’s the right size,” says Benjamin. “It’s taller than the school,” points out Benjamina.
Photograph by Rachel Beckman