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