AMES, Iowa -- It's a strong part of the Ames Community School District mission.
"Our kids are involved, these kids have a voice," said district Superintendent Tim Taylor.
On Friday during the national anthem, as Ames hosted Lincoln High School in football, over a dozen Ames marching band members voiced their message against racism and inequality.
Taylor said, "The thirteen students that were involved took it upon themselves to leave the field, go into the stands to stand during the anthem, and link arms with the student body in a show of unity."
It's that solidarity, beginning quietly during the school week, that Taylor says is worth praise.
"I'm really proud of the fact that, A, they were responsible enough to go to the building principal, and B, that we have the kind of building principal that kids are not afraid to go to and say, 'this is what we want to do, what do you think?'"
As social media caught wind of what happened, many disagreed. In fact, the district has already heard opinions from 41 of the 50 states.
"The ones coming to us from outside of Iowa are not very pleasant. But I'm not concerned about those, I'm concerned about the ones in Ames and the support from the Ames community for their kids."
Some of those comments painted a picture that Iowa couldn't possibly have racially inequality and high school kids are too young to have experienced any in the first place.
Taylor responded by saying, "I've never walked in their skin, and just because we are from Iowa doesn't mean we are living out in the cornfields somewhere."
Taylor believes the opinions voiced on Friday from his students give him a firm stance on the district's mission to educate students both inside and outside of the classroom.
"More importantly, it's also making kids career-ready and citizenship-ready," he said. "This, I think, was a very important step in helping us, as a school district, meet that mission."
Superintendent Taylor says the district has no regrets, saying the protest was peaceful and the students still stood facing the flag during the anthem.