NASHVILLE --- Some barely know English, and others can only mouth a few of the words, but each McMurray Middle School refugee student stands at attention when the Pledge of Allegiance comes on over the intercom.
And each proudly covers their heart with eyes fixated on the United States flag.
It's the scene Rachel Haltiwanger is greeted with every morning as a teacher with the school's Students with Interrupted Formal Education program, aimed at helping mostly refugee students. And it's a scene she asked President Donald Trump via a Facebook post to see after he implemented a temporary travel ban of seven Muslim-majority countries.
"I wrote the letter to him saying I would love for you to meet these children you are keeping out," she said of the Facebook post. "To come meet my Syrian students that just got here in the last week before the ban and see what they are doing at the school to help America be great."
Haltiwanger created the post because she saw many people bash or express fear of refugees in light of Trump's order Jan. 27 that barred citizens from Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen for 90 days.
The order also suspended the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program for at least four months. A day after the order was signed, however, a federal judge granted an emergency stay, halting part of the president's executive decision that has caused some families to be detained and worldwide protests.
Many of Haltiwanger's students are from the countries listed in the ban, and the school hasn't seen any new refugee students pass through its doors since the ban took effect last week.
McMurray Middle School regularly saw about one new refugee student every day throughout the school year. Its program is the only one like it among all of Nashville's middle schools and serves all of the city.
Every student and parent who has ever passed through the program has been extremely grateful and friendly, Haltwinger said, and she wanted to convey that within the Facebook post.
"We do parent teacher conferences as home visits so we go to the student's houses and we meet with their parents, and every single family makes us tea or coffee," she said. "They won't let us leave until we've drank three cups, and they want to know about our lives and thank us so much for serving their kids."
Others in Metro Nashville Public Schools have spoken out in support of the district's immigrant and refugee families, including Director Shawn Joseph.
"The President’s actions have understandably caused a tremendous amount of concern for our foreign-born families and staff, as well as the broader community who care about our fellow human beings," Joseph said in a Monday night letter. "Our families and staff need accurate information and we want to be a resource for you."
Those at other schools have seen their families feel the effect of the temporary immigration ban, including neighboring Tusculum Elementary School.
Tusculum Principal Alison McMahan said the school has over 90 refugees, and a large number are from the areas listed in the travel ban. The families have quietly taken the orders in stride, she said.
“They are sweet, and they are kind, and they come from a place of knowing what the American Dream looks like because of where they come from,” she said. “They are so appreciative.”
The South Nashville community has shown its support for its kids by making signs. And the school sent home Joseph’s letter in multiple languages to refugee parents.
“The whole community said, ‘Whatever is going on outside, no matter your origin or the language you speak, we are going to take care of you,’ ” McMahan said.
Haltiwanger added that the refugee community members often can't speak up for themselves, another reason why she wanted to speak out about her kids and parents, who she said care deeply about the United States. Haltiwanger said many of those kids have family members waiting to enter the United States.
"I've never felt afraid of my students' families. I've never felt like they are extremists or felt anything but that they are people who want their kids to grow up safe, happy and with a good education," she said.