Thursday, April 8, 2010

Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture

Today's offering originated with Mama Kat's Prompt #6: Who is a bird-brain? Think about all the birds you’ve seen–from songbirds to hunters. Compare one or more people you know to different types of birds in a piece of writing. This is a story about Birds of Prey.

The following post consists of recent correspondence between Mrs. Scribe &Our Humble High School's sainted girls soccer team. They're winners, as you will see from the following e-mails. If all get suspended indefinitely, whose fault would it be~the team members or the student newspaper?

Dear Mrs. Scribe:
My name is Susie Soccer Player and I am a captain of the girls varsity soccer team. I was informed that Newspaper Boy is writing an article about the "lap dances" that happened at a pasta party. The team has already been falsely accused, interrogated, investigated, and found innocent. Although the claims of a misinformed parent were found incorrect, this did not stop the team from being tormented with degrading names and labels. I have talked to Newspaper Boy and he told me it was his job to write the story and he is being graded on it, so I would very much appreciate if you would change his story subject...There has already been enough drama involving the rumors of the pasta party and the questions and name-calling has stopped. I would like to keep it that way. I do understand your class, including Newspaper Boy, has the freedom of speech and press, but I am not looking to take these rights away from you. I am simply asking for respect. I believe Newspaper Boy could produce a well-written, unbiased story about the event, but this article would only be informing even more students, causing a new breakout of questions and name-calling, which would distract and hurt the team as we are now looking to rise above the incident and move forward. I hope you can tell how important this is to me and the team that this article does not run. Please respect us and do not run the article.Thank you for your understanding,
Susie Soccer Player

*Note to Susie: You characterize the so-called lap dances as a "rumor," but also indicate that they "happened at a pasta party." You can't have it both ways, chica!*

Susie:
Thanks for your e-mail. As you probably know, Our Humble High School's Newspaper does not print untruths or rumors, nor do we print material that is considered prurient or salacious (legal terms, meaning what we print should always be in good taste). If anyone on the soccer team was disciplined for breaking the law, or if team members were suspended and/or disciplined for unorthodox behavior, then we would have to reconsider. From what you say in your e-mail, though, sounds pretty much like a "non-story" to me. That being said, I'd have to talk to my staff to see if there are any merits to the claims that have been made.
Mrs. Scribe


*Note to readers: Both the girls & boys soccer squads at Our Humble High School are considered "untouchable" by the adminstration, because they win games. Our girls team has one the district four times in a row. If these chicas were suspended for "salacious" behavior, what would happen to their winning ways?*


Dear Mrs. Scribe:
It has come to my attention that one of your writers is currently writing an article about the girl’s soccer team and the “lap dance” incident that occurred several weeks ago. I am unsure who the writer of this article is. I would like to request that it is NOT published in Our Humble High School's Newspaper. First, the actual events of the evening became distorted once they reached the public. They have been fully investigated by myself, Student Activities Man, Principal Man, and School Cop. We have handled the situation, and it has died down. My team, as a whole and as individuals, has done their best to put it behind them and move forward in a more positive light. We do not need for this to be brought back to the front of peoples minds. Finally, Student Activities Man had a lengthy talk with the team about the situation and how to behave and act in all situations. During this talk, we decided/agreed, at SAM's recommendation, that the issue would no longer be talked about and that we were going to try our best to let it be the past. A story being written about it and published for public consumption would not help, and will actually serve quite the opposite purpose. I feel very strongly that this is not a “storyline” that needs to be shared even further with the entire school. There are plenty of other stories in this school that could be written and give students the chance to shine in a positive way rather than publishing what is negative. There are even stories within our team that are positive and could be shared with the school, because I do not believe that many people know. Please consider this respectful request. It is not being made for myself, but rather for my team and for the girls who are involved on an individual basis. This is not the publicity that anyone needs or wants, and we have done our best to move beyond this unfortunate event. I ask that the writers and editors on your staff do the same thing. Thank you.
Soccer Coach

*Question to Soccer Coach: If your so-called "investigation" turned out to have no merit, why did you call in the School Cop? But wait, our intrepid reporters found out why. Read on...*

Dear Soccer Coach:
Thanks for your e-mail. Susie Soccer Girl wrote me a similar e-mail last night. I’d like to share with you a couple of my thoughts.

First of all, Susie was never clear in her e-mail whether these events actually happened, or if there were just rumors about something like this happening. Your e-mail to me, however, confirms to me that something like this did occur.

I appreciate the fact that you, as a coach, would like to put the episode behind you. I also realize that Our Humble High School's Newspaper would put you in an uncomfortable position if my students published a story.
However, as you can see from the attached response that I sent Susie, I never said that the newspaper would NOT publish an article. I merely outlined the steps my student reporters take for investigating, reporting and then writing any story that appears in our student newspaper. As I told Susie, a “rumor” would never be reported; we try to refrain from “making news,” especially with topics of this type, and finally, if a story that is thoroughly researched and is not deemed “newsworthy,” then no story is printed.

My students are held to the highest ethical standards. Our Humble High School's newspaper is not just a “rumor sheet” that is printed for the enjoyment of the students at this school. My staff takes its responsibilities quite seriously, and I have to say that considering that they are student reporters, they do a remarkable job.

Let me tell you what my reporters have determined so far, and which they told me, after I wrote to Susie last night. I’m sharing this information with you as a professional courtesy:

1. Some kind of lap dancing with the varsity boys team did occur. This has been confirmed by several very reliable sources, including several of your current team members.

2. Soccer team tradition apparently dictates that freshmen girls who make varsity give lap dances to senior varsity boys at a party thrown by both teams. Then freshmen boys must reciprocate by giving lap dances to senior girls.
3. In one case, a 14-year-old girl gave a lap dance to an 18-year-old boy.
4. The incident was part of an initiation, although initiations have been banned at our school for at least 10 years.
5. The girls varsity team received a “talking to,” but no one was disciplined or removed from either team. My reporter was unable to determine if the boys team was lectured, as well.
6. Your former players (graduates) have confirmed that this is not the first time the girls soccer team has been involved in an incident of this type.

7. Young women who played for the team before you took over three seasons ago confirm that this "tradition" dates back at least to 2002.

While I do appreciate the fact that you’d be in a little bit of a pickle if my reporters did write a story, trying to suppress the news, in my opinion, is not the way to go. The newspaper staff takes its duties seriously; my students are responsible journalists, and would never print anything other than the truth. And the truth is not always positive.


My reporters have written dozens of positive stories this year, about your team and about other groups in the school as well. I’m sure you didn’t mean to insinuate that Our Humble High School's Newspaper is only out to cast their fellow Spartans in a negative light, which is certainly never the case.

Thanks so much for letting me know of your concerns.

Mrs. Scribe

*Stay tuned, Scribe fans! My reporters are digging into the seamier side of high school life, even as we speak. But I have a question to ask y'all: Should we ignore this story, thus helping the team to "move on" as the captain and the coach have requested, or should we shake it like a Polaroid Picture?*

32 comments:

Farmers Wife said...

Holy moly, it's all happening over there isn't it. I needed a cuppa tea during this....great stuff!

Cheryl said...

"Full-contact lap dances may involve non-penetrative sex where the woman rubs her genitalia against the man's."

Let's face it, there were no strip club rules in play at the party. Who knows how far the lap dancing went? I'll bet they went further than legal lap dances (which are highly regulated). What you're describing isn't some innocent hazing incident. This is coercive sexual assault. You've got at least one 14 year old girl who has not reached the age of consent being forced to take one for the team.

If it's true, blow the doors off the joint.

paige said...

My goodness! What a story.

Visiting from Mama Kat's.

parentingBYdummies said...

Ah...I miss high school!

NOT!

Actually, I do quite miss my high school body as it has been abducted by food loving aliens and replaced with this nasty old thing.

yonca said...

OhMy, your post remind me my high school days:)
Have a wonderful day!

Quasi Serendipita said...

What a drama! I can't wait to find out what happens next!

Megan (Best of Fates) said...

Wow.

I think something needs to be done, and if drawing more attention to the situation through a news story could result in the school taking action, then that's what you should do. Bad enough they're common in colleges, but for high schools to have such initiations is frightening, as is the coaches apparent willingness to not take action and stop it.

Life with Kaishon said...

Oh my. Oh my. Oh my. Wow.
I am speechless.
I have to go read what the commentors said. Surely they offered better advice than I could. Holy WOW!

bethaleh said...

Wow. Big props to you for sticking to your guns.

Even if some of the soccer "chicas" thought the lap-dancing was just a fun little tradition, it's not. I can guarantee (at the very least) one of those freshies was feeling uncomfortable and pressured. I remember when I made the varsity softball team as a freshman in high school - I was so nervous and so wanted to be accepted by the older girls. Thank goodness none of this behavior was tolerated by my coach or school. Or by that matter, my teammates.

I'm always so flabbergasted when I hear about or see adults enabling or even encouraging what is essentially hazing and bullying. This, when just last week three students were charged with criminally harassing a girl in Massachusetts who killed herself because of incessant bullying. Le Sigh.

Also, as a former journalist (albeit one of one the photo persuasion) and hopefully future teacher, I have to really hand it to you for handling the situation with such grace, class and integrity. You are setting a wonderful example for your "journalistas."

Susie said...

Wow!! Is this high school or congress?

Queenie Jeannie said...

As a parent, I think this kind of "hazing", or whatever you want to label it, is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!!!! Especially with a sexual nature. That is just unbelievable! This has been going on at least 8 years???

Not cool Coach, wayyyy NOT cool!

I'd be in front of the school board in a heartbeat! PRINT IT Mrs. Scribe!!!!

Cori Lynn Berg said...

Good job! As embarassing as it may be for the story to come out.. sounds like it needs to for the sake of the young ones pressured/forced to participate in this... How sad...

xoxoKrysten said...

Wow your post is totally making me think about high school days.

Sarah said...

that sad tradition is so disturbing on so many levels!

The Blonde Duck said...

PRINT IT! PRINT IT!

I remember in hs and in college when the admin would try to shut stories down...good for you!!! Kudos!

I LOVE Chuy's. It's my favorite in Austin. Second favorite would be Manuels. In San Antonio, I'm obsessed with Papa Gallos and Ajuua.

givingherallshesgot said...

Print it! Absolutely! If this was a one-time incident that, say, one overexcited kid did with someone their own age, and they were appropriately punished, maybe you let them "move past it." But a long-repeated tradition that 1) no one was punished for and 2) no one has addressed stopping is not going to just go away by the team ignoring it ('cause isn't that what "moving past it" is?. Publish it to protect all the future young varsity players out there.

Disgusting. 14 year olds are so desperate to fit in....How could adults let them be taken advantage of?

I am following now, 'cause I have to hear what happens!

Herself said...

Seriously?
I mean... seriously???

Jenn@ You know... that blog? said...

OMG, that is disgusting! You absolutely have to get to the bottom of this, and blow the lid off the story. Those kids are too young to be making choices like that, or to be forced into performing for much older peers. It's criminal!

If my daughter were involved I'd have gone ballistic, and I would for sure be taking steps to make it known, and make sure they put a stop to it.

The coach wanting to sweep it under the rug should be investigated too - he should be more interested in doing the right thing and making sure it never happens again than trying to cork the story. What else is he trying to keep a lid on?

Wow, my blood pressure just shot up.

Rachel Cotterill said...

That story is clearly MUCH too juicy to not print it! Newspaper Boy is going to be a star ;)

Jeanie said...

It doesn't sound like there will be any "moving on" from this if it is not brought to light. If you find it to be true and that it has been going on for several years it needs to be stopped. You did a great job of telling the story to this point here. Your students have a great teacher.

Lucy said...

School politics and their sports drives me nuts but they cannot stop freedom of speech and the school principal absolutely knows this along with the superintendent, you will win!!!! It is one fundamental right that the United States deems essential and practically untouchable, even schools can't get around it!!! You go, I love see academics squash a coach, sorry, very petty of me, I know!

Christy (Columbia Lily) said...

thank God I am not a journalism teacher...conflict makes me squeamish. Good luck with whatever decision you go with.

MommieDaze said...

Oh my word! Seriously? It's sad that this is true, but kinda funny too. Oh, the drama! This is better than an episode of Glee. Can't wait to hear to more.

Kristin said...

Andre 3000 it up baby!

Andrea said...

That is drama indeed! Crazy drama. Oh how I can wait for my kids to grow up.

quilly said...

I think you have more than proven it is a legitimate news story. Print it.

Like many others reading this, I can't believe that so many adults stood by for so long and did nothing. Don't be one of them.

dkzody said...

The coach has put her butt on the line, literally and figuratively. Someone needs to step in and get this stopped. Something similar happened here at a BIG DEAL high school and its BIG DEAL baseball team. the coach, who was right next to God in this district, lost his job. It was scandalous. However, funny part, they named the baseball field for him after he left.

"Cottage By The Sea" said...

I say, shake it like a Polaroid picture. You should have been an attorney. Good with words and arguments, and can see all the facts from the evidence even when people are trying to hide it. Also well written. I hated high school and this drama reminds me of why. I hated it when I was in it, I hated it when my kids were in it. You high school teachers are not paid 1/2 of what you are worth just for showing up to deal with those kids. Hopefully, there are a few good kids somewhere in these institutions, are there not? I think I need to go bury my head back in the sand where it belongs. I know these incidents are true but I don't want to know about it while I still have 2 kids in high school. Sadly though, because you have winning sports teams, nobody will do anything to compromise 'the wins'. When one of my daughters was in high school, a girl got busted for dealing pot in the parking lot. The girl however, had a soccer scholarship to this private school and to the University which was giving her a full ride the next year. Amazingly the whole "incident" just disappeared and everything went on as usual. This girl went to the University on scholarship and alas they were surprised to find out she was a big druggy and dropped out AFTER they threw money at her for a year. Some people never learn.

Nappi said...

I'd say if the team is past it, if it happened a while ago I wouldn't see the point in printing it. The environment in any high school pretty much guarantees that everyone already knows what happened. Printing the facts your reporter has won't tell anyone anything they didn't already know.
And I agree that 14 year-olds giving lap dances is kinda sketch, but the antics of my peers and I at that age were not dissimilar, nor were they very uncommon.
Great read though.

Tortuga said...

Better late than never on my comment, but I definitely agree with many of the above. This has to be brought to light.

miss jo said...

This is such a great story....I love the student and adviser attempts at a lap-dance cover up !...You're absolutely correct in not caving in. Can't believe the soccer coach was trying to appeal to your school spirit. I call that trying-to-save-my-ass spirit ! Write On Cherubs AND Ms. Scribe :)...

Joann Mannix said...

Holy Cow. Wow. You have every right to investigate this story further. Nothing is more appalling than someone trying to squash a story. I find the lap dancing to be pretty vile and disturbing. I have a 14 year old daughter and I just have no words.

I hope this story not only was written, I hope the soccer teams had the roof blown off their cover.

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