FORT COLLINS, Colo., Feb. 5 (UPI) -- The rejection of a slang term for "America" to promote a Colorado high school's spirit week has been attacked by some residents as anti-American, officials say.
Protesters gathered outside Fort Collins High School after the principal said students couldn't use the word "'Merica" in the name of a school event, the Fort Collins Coloradoan reported Tuesday.
Students had chosen "'Merica Day" as the theme for events Monday that would kick off a week intended to promote school unity. Principal Mark Eversole rejected the word "'Merica," saying it was a derogatory term that was "disrespectful to our country."
A student council member said students saw "'Merica Day" as a chance to celebrate patriotism and to wear the colors of the U.S. flag.
Students considered alternatives and on Tuesday settled on "America Day," as about a dozen protesters gathered outside the school to protest Eversole's ban on "'Merica Day."
One protester, Jeff Jensen, said a group would "surround the school" Monday in support of the students.
"We were surprised that our community interpreted our actions as anti-American," Eversole said in a statement. "We are a proud public school in America and support many activities to celebrate our great nation."
Some commenting on Facebook wondered if students had planned to use "'Merica Day" as a way to make fun of people who were overly patriotic.