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And the
Momerath

Comments by The Mome

in loco parentis

High school means different things for different people. For some it represented their glory days, the best time of their lives (how sad). For others it was a malingering hell to be gotten through. For some it was a challenge, the start of the great experiences leading them to a good college and fulfilling career. For others in meant a weeding out, a thinning of the herd. For the editor of this site, high school will always mean the dusty storeroom in woodshop where Mr. Jenkins made him a man (mostly by dressing him up as a girl). But for good or ill, high school was the place where most of us grew up. Where we learned about life: the pleasures, the pains, the passions and the trials.

North Little Rock, AK - An eighth-grader at Northwood Junior High School after breaking up with his girl friend wrote a bitter, angry letter over the affair. It was written in his home and was not discussed by the boy until his friend stole it and presented it to the girl in question. She showed it to school officials and the boy was suspended from school and embroiled in a legal debate that involved the US District Court in order to get him reinstated. Where understanding and benevolent administrators worked tirelessly in the student’s best interests, protecting them from undue influences and ensuring they were able to leave the educational system of the country fully capable of taking on the world. Preparing them for the struggles ahead as they make their way into the future, leaders of men, winners of hearts and minds. Midland, TX - A student at the local high school received from a friend a photo of the married principal's car parked in the driveway of a female teacher's house with whom he is having a less-than-secret affair. He is confronted by the school administration with demands for a written apology. The boy refuses and is then suspended from school and barred from attending his graduation all the while maintaining the truth, he did nothing wrong. Where teachers, caring, sensitive and well-paid, instilled us with the finest values, ethics and principles. Caring men and women who, just like on that Boston Public show, were there as a support group, a confidant, a collection of nurturing caregivers who wanted nothing more than to see the fruits of their labors advance boldly into a future glorious with possibilities.  Blaine, WA - A high school senior writes a poem seeking to explore what might be going through the mind of a student who shoots his fellow classmates. He shows the poem to his English teacher for constructive criticism. Three days later he was investigated by police and expelled and not allowed back into school until passing a psychiatric screening. Where students could achieve for themselves by using individuality and creative thinking. Where art and culture were imprinted on our fertile minds, providing us with he ability to see things differently, to think boldly for ourselves; an ability which was amply rewarded.  Leon, KS - Senior Sarah Boman, a student artist art the local high school, displayed a conceptual work which included the phrase "I'll kill you all." as an obvious part of the thoughts of a deranged person trying to discovered who had killed his dog. School officials suspended her after perceiving this as a threat of violence against the school and will only admit her return after she submits to a mental health exam. Where eager young minds could be taught to question authority, and even though pride in this great nation would eventually gain ascendance, it was understood that every teen goes through a period of adjustment where they feel the need to rebel and break free from traditional values. However, our school system made allowances for these actions, knowing they were just part and parcel of the uncertain times the youth were going through. Wilkes-Barre, PA - High school sophomore Craig Paternoster was suspended from school for refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance and has to write a 1,000 word essay explaining his refusal in order to return to school. Where young people were taught the value of free expression, one of the founding principles of this wonderful land of ours. Where they could be made to understand the value of the Bill of Rights and of the unlimited power a free press in this great free society gives to the people of this land of liberty. Freeport, NY - After 30 years of successful service, Ira Schildkraut, a teacher and advisor for the school paper, was relieved of his duties and the mission statement of the paper changed. Mr. Schildkraut was supposedly relived for performance reasons only, but the previous semester the paper had begun running controversial stories concerning a teacher's improper relations with a student, a gun which had been brought to school and other stories the school administration didn't like. Now instead of an advisor and a student review board, the paper is overseen by Lottie Taylor-Northover, the principal of the school. Where students could be instilled with a agile sense of humor and firm grasp of satire. Where wit was known to be used as a balm against the troublesome burdens of responsibility they faced, representing as they did the future of this heroic country. Lawrence, KS - Two high school seniors, after distributing a satirical version of the school paper which contained articles such as "Pope Apologizes for All 2000 Years of Christian Persecution" and "NYC Police Arrest Man for Being Black," were suspended. (Not officially. The students were told that they would receive an "official" suspension if their parents did not remove them from the school "voluntarily.") Where the ability of a free and creative mind to instill fictional works with slices of real life, akin to the recent biography of Reagan, was taught to the sons and daughters of this illustrious land. Where these same precocious tykes could be taught the valuable lessons of history, that the line between fact and fancy, although solid, can be crossed for the purposes of entertainment as is done in "live" broadcasts on the nightly news.  Ponder, TX - Following the instructions of his teacher to write a scary story, a 13 year-old student at the local high school responded with an obviously tongue-in-cheek story which included the shooting of some real people. School administrators saw a threat in the silly tale and had the boy arrested and jailed for six days. Where we were taught that there is justice and fair play in the world. That no authority has the right to impose unwieldy and unjust sentences for actions that may not even be criminal. Where we were taught that understanding and tolerant administrators would be sure to examine every side of an issue before rendering a judgement. And that these same administrators would not let public paranoia influence what they did, nor hold a single student out as an example for the rest. Hoggard, NC - High school student, Joshua Mortimer, reflecting the millennial anxiety of the year 2000, typed the legend "The End is Near" as a screen saver on his classroom computer. Another student saw the message and reported it to the school officials as a threat. They agreed and Joshua was jailed for three days. After a year-long trial his final sentence: 45 days in jail (suspended), 18 months probation and 48 hours of community service. Where we were able to voice our doubts in a peaceful and rational manner. Where we learned we have the freedom to question the validity of actions taken by those in authority and be able to enjoy free access to the media both as recipient or participant. Allen, TX - In the wake of Columbine and Littleton the local high school established draconian new policies. Some of these policies included a ban on trenchcoats, mental health screening for students choosing to wear black or other "unorthodox" clothing and an across the board prohibition of even mentioning, let alone discussing, the killings. Ten students wore black armbands to school to silently protest the new measures. For their pains, they were suspended. They were also warned that if they ever wanted their records clear, they could not speak to the news media. Yes, high school is the place where we are instructed on how to be good citizens, obey the laws of the country. Where we were first shown to shirk our responsibilities in ways which we will not get caught. Where we were taught what it means to be a Merikan; that the values and freedom upon which this great country were founded still stand for something. Where every boy and girl was and is shaped into the men and women they will become. Where the children of this great land are given firm examples of what the founding fathers meant by individual liberty. Where the youth of today are shown tolerance for difference and openness to new ideas. To respect the beliefs of others and to accept others as they are no matter what they may be. Where everyone has the right to be happy, so long as they don't step out of line. Thank god nothing's changed.

[NOTE: The examples above are real. For the stories behind them go to www.freedomforum.org and check out the Outrage of the Week.]
 

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