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Catholic School Expels Pro-Trump Pupils after MAGA Speech

School's pastor announces principal's sudden departure without giving reasons



A priest heading a private Catholic school has expelled three pupils from the same family after one of the siblings submitted an election speech mirroring language used by former President Donald Trump.


Jimmy Heyward was kicked out of St. Bonaventure Catholic School, a TK-8 institution in Huntington Beach, California, for refusing to tone down references to patriotism in his speech as part of his campaign for Commissioner of School Spirit and Patriotism, according to his mother Hattie Ruggles.  


13-year-old Heyward was set to address his peers on May 16 at St. Bonaventure, which promotes itself as “the best Catholic school in Orange County,” when principal Mary Flock told him he would not be able to speak if he did not delete “ALL parts about patriotism,” Ruggles said in an online petition


In his three-and-a-half-minute speech, now posted on the social media platform X, eighth-grader Heyward called for students to respect the National Anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, veterans, and other aspects of American patriotism.


“I can promise to make pep rallies great again. I will make the school spirit great again. I will make patriotism within SBS (St. Bonaventure School) great again. And mostly, I will make SBS great again,” he said, echoing the Make American Great Again (MAGA) rhetoric of President Donald Trump. 


Ruggles said her son was also criticized by some classmates for his campaign poster and hat that mimicked Trump campaign’s style. “Instead of just writing something like ‘Vote for Jimmy,’ he was really thinking out of the box and thinking this would be cool to do something in the style of a real presidential campaign,” the mother of four said.


“I think if it was flipped and had he mimicked Joe Biden’s campaign, and used his slogan, it would have been fine,” she added. 


Ruggles and her husband, Ed Heyward, shared an email from Flock to the parents of pupils at the school, justifying her decision to stop Jimmy Heyward from delivering his speech.  


“If a speech does not receive final approval, we adhere to our established guidelines, which means the student will not be permitted to deliver the speech,” the email said, claiming that “school administrators felt encouraged by the words of patriotism but were discouraged by what is perceived as some negative comments and sought adjustments to make it more positive.”


“This incident reminds us of the importance of maintaining a respectful and inclusive environment within our school community,” the email added.


On June 11, Fr. Vincent Pham, parish priest of St. Bonaventure Parish, which established and runs the school as part of its ministry, wrote to Heyward’s parents that a decision had been made “to terminate your family’s enrollment from St. Bonaventure School for the next school year.”


“This morning we received an email terminating Jimmy, Alice, and Livia from the school and will not allow them to return next year,” Hattie Ruggles wrote on Facebook.


Pham told the parents that the expulsion of the Heyward children was a result of “serious violations of the Christian Code of Conduct and the Parent Electronic Communication policy.”


The actions include speaking rudely to the school’s administration, posting disparaging remarks about the faculty and administration on social media, holding a protest on parish grounds, promoting a petition to remove the school’s principal, and threatening the administration if demands were not met, Pham’s letter explained.


Ruggles challenged the school administration’s version of events revealing how the administration called the police when her husband, who had gone to the school to speak to the principal, and vice-principal Caleb McFarren, refused to leave and “walked to the opposite side of the gate, away from everyone else and all students/faculty” when he was asked to vacate the premises. 


Ruggles, who has kept updating the petition which at the time of writing had garnered over 7,000 signatures, called for Flock to be fired immediately. 


In a twist of events, an email sent from Fr. Pham on May 24 to all parents at St. Bonaventure School, said that Flock “will not be returning to St. Bonaventure next school year.”    


“Since joining our school community, Ms. Flock has worked diligently to help our students excel academically and grow in their faith and values,” Pham wrote. “Her unwavering dedication to Catholic education and commitment to nurturing our children's spiritual and academic growth will be missed.” 


“Hating on America is not cool,” mega-billionaire and owner of X, Elon Musk, posted on the social media platform in response to Heyward’s speech. 


St. Bonaventure Catholic School was established in September 1966 under the auspices of the Irish Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The school currently has over 500 students spanning Transitional Kindergarten to Eighth Grade.


The school did not respond to Souls & Liberty’s request for comment. 


Dr. Jules Gomes, (BA, BD, MTh, PhD), has a doctorate in biblical studies from the University of Cambridge. Currently a Vatican-accredited journalist based in Rome, he is the author of five books and several academic articles. Gomes lectured at Catholic and Protestant seminaries and universities and was canon theologian and artistic director at Liverpool Cathedral.


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I wish the address was in the article, I and perhaps other people would like to write to the parish priest.

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----“This incident reminds us of the importance of maintaining a respectful and inclusive environment within our school community,” the email added.----


'Therefore, we respectfully EXclude you and your family from our inclusive environment; please not not return to our school community.'

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