Wednesday, March 20, 2013

SBO President Fights Back

I don't know about your school, but at mine, the student body officers have no power. Their primary function is making posters and organizing assemblies. They're more of a pep squad than anything. But at Horace Greeley High School in New York, one student council president is tired of being a puppet. When the administration decided to cancel the Greeley Games-a sort of field day/school spirit war-he responded with this open letter. Any formatting errors are my own.

     Who Took My Greeley?
     I was very disappointed to hear yesterday that the Greeley Games event that I proposed is not going to happen. Quite frankly, I’m not at all surprised, as this seems to be par for the course these days. It has gotten to the point where every single member of the Student Council is disappointed with the way the administration is trying to dismantle the very things that had made Greeley great for so long.
We have lost our motivation to try to engage the students, generate enthusiasm and a sense of community and make being a Greeley student more than capitulating to the arbitrary decisions of the administration. Why bother working on proposals and trying to innovate when we know the administration is going to say no? It’s funny that we are all so frustrated with our elected officials in Washington, yet the same thing is happening right here. Each time a new idea comes to the floor, we’re getting filibustered, then left to take the blame for not taking action.
It’s really sad to see how significantly Greeley has declined over the past four years, from the exercise in political correctness gone mad re: the funball team name debacle to the arbitrary and ridiculous hoops that need to be jumped through to bring in a speaker, to the fact that a group was told they can’t sell hot chocolate in the morning for charity because it’s “too dangerous.”
I don’t feel as if I’m doing even half the job I ran for as President and the reason for that is the administration. For us, high school is more than just getting into college. It’s supposed to be an experience that matures us not just intellectually, but in other ways too. How can we do that when the only thing we are assured of is the academic aspects—and those aren’t so great anymore either? Eliza Note: Yes! Yes! Yes! He's brought out everything I've ever wanted to say to the administration in those few sentences. This school has become so resistant to positive new ideas that students actually care about and so concerned with the possibility of political incorrectness that nothing even has a chance. For example, how do we know that the event I proposed would have an attendance problem if it’s never happened before?
     When I sat down with Mr. Rhodes and Mr. Corsilia in the beginning of the school year, I saw the potential to reignite at least some of the fire that I know Greeley used to have. I now know how wrong I was in thinking that. I know that interest in participating in Student Council is in rapid decline and I wouldn’t be surprised if next year’s group has trouble filling all of the positions, another sign that the administration is failing to provide space for a meaningful high school experience.
     People simply don’t want to deal with working hard and formulating new ideas only to be shot down. You are denying leadership opportunities to the next generation of leaders by rendering those who do want to lead utterly ineffective. It has become simply not worth my time, either, to think of fun, creative ways to bring the school community together when I know that there is no chance of any of our ideas actually coming to fruition. I’m tired of being asked, “When are we going to have a school wide event?” or “When is something fun going to happen?” and not having an answer. Eliza note: Especially because that's all they do. From this day forward, I am going to tell anyone who asks that the administration won’t let it happen. I don’t want the students who elected me to think I don’t care and haven’t been trying mightily to bring this school back to its former greatness.
     I am deeply disappointed in the administration for not recognizing that the Greeley we all love is slipping away because they are afraid of innovation and trying something new. The other members of the Student Council feel the same way and share my disappointment in their decisions. I’ve spoken to many former Greeley students recently, some who graduated last year, some who graduated ten years ago, and to some who were Student Council members themselves.  They are amazed that the Greeley they knew and loved bears no resemblance to the one I am graduating from in just a few months.
This school has gone from a place of which I was proud to be President to a place that I can’t wait to leave. If it is your long-term plan to oversee a community of grade-obsessed, one dimensional, disinterested students then continue to do what you are doing. If you want a vibrant, engaged community of students who participate in their education more fully, then you need to reexamine how you interact with us. Less police state and PC paranoia and more positivity would help. Just today, I heard of two new issues that are all of a sudden problems in the eyes of the administration. I’ve been told that the beloved Greeley a capella groups have to meet with you because the fact that they rehearse off-campus is a problem. Why? Why do they have to change how they operate if they are successful as they are now? Isn’t this discouraging the independence that you encourage us to develop throughout high school? Eliza note: Independence? Why would they want that? And now you want to change the traditional trip to Jones Beach for seniors? You have already dismantled quite a few senior traditions. Can you leave just one alone?
     I feel compelled to write this as the elected representative of the student body, a position that I will continue to take very seriously until my term is up. I will continue to plan the events that are already on the calendar and I will continue to fulfill my responsibility of addressing the school at the coming assemblies and ultimately graduation, but I promise nothing more.
     The next time you need someone to represent Greeley, whether it be to a group of students from another country or one new student who will be joining this so-called community next year, find someone else. I don’t feel as though I can lend my time to your causes, if mine are not taken seriously. To summarize, we’ve all had enough of the arbitrary decisions. The Theatre Company just put on a play about sex (and a very good one might I add) without being questioned, and yet a song for the a capella concert was questioned because it included the word “bullet” and referenced guns. Can you explain that inconsistency? I can’t.
I wish you an uneventful rest of the school year. 
Tim Bloom
Student Council President 2012-2013

I have one thing to say to this: Ha! 
Brilliant.Way to do your job, Mr. Bloom. 

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