Apparently, my grandmother was decades ahead of her time. A sweet, little white-haired lady who tended her garden and cooked a killer Sunday dinner, grandma saw The Beatles for the first time one night on the Ed Sullivan show and was convinced that Armageddon was nigh, that God had taken a standing 8 count up in Heaven and that Satan had scored a technical knockout.
The devil s music, she said, putting her hands over her ears. (Personally, Bert, I thought the little mouse that talked to Ed was scarier. But that s just me.)
It s probably a good thing that grandma went to her reward before Ozzy Osbourne showed up. I don t think she could have handled that particular prince of darkness.
Anyway, I thought of grandma when I read the story about Tyler Frost, the senior who was warned by Heritage Christian School in Findlay that he would be suspended two weeks shy of graduation if he attended his girlfriend s senior prom this past weekend at Findlay High School. He insisted he was going anyway, which means he will receive incomplete grades and will not be allowed to attend commencement with his classmates.
Students at Heritage Christian sign a pact, which I presume is required, that says they will abstain from dancing and hand-holding and loud, evil music. I can only imagine there are about 150 other things that the folks at Heritage Christian must be against, too; personal freedom, reason and trust being among them.
Grandma probably would understand. After all, dancing could lead to human contact, although I ve seen kids dance and there s no guarantee. Hand-holding could lead to embracing, which could lead to kissing, which could lead to, my gosh, sharing a malted?
Grandma, of course, was born in the 1880s. We have fast-forwarded to 2009. The Beatles are half dead and otherwise gone and even Ozzy didn t destroy civilization, although his family s reality show came pretty damn close.
OK, Bert, you re probably dying for me to make a point. Here goes.
I applaud kids who don t drink. I applaud kids who don t do drugs. I applaud kids who don t attend Lions games. I applaud kids who abstain from cover your eyes, elders from Heritage Christian, because I m about to type SEX.
But life isn t all bake sales, car washes and PTA meetings. You can teach kids, but sometimes you have to let them learn. You teach them to make good decisions, perhaps in the case of some schools even godly decisions. But then you don t trust them to walk among the unwashed heathens?
Look, I realize that many private schools hold themselves and their students to a higher standard. I applaud that, too. I understand rules, even if I think they re silly, and I understand the consequences of breaking them.
But not allowing a kid to enjoy one of the biggest moments of his life, attending his high school graduation? Get serious. Give him five after-school detentions. Make him clean all the chalkboards and mop the gym floor. Heck, if it s a really big deal, give him five lashes from the headmaster s whip.
Better yet, lighten up. Have a sock hop. Play Beatles music, even that devilish tune about wanting to hold your hand.
So, are you with me on this Bert? Or are you going to don a habit and rap my knuckles with a ruler?
Headed for hell in a hand-basket,
Topo Gigio! The little mouse on the Ed Sullivan show! I can t believe I remembered that
I also remember seeing The Beatles on that show. I was in elementary school, and when I saw those girls in the audience scream and cry, I jumped up and down on the couch and screamed and fake-cried right along with them. My mother frowned. Unlike your grandmother, it wasn t the music that irked her. It was undue furniture hardship.
You know, Dave, I remember once when you and I and our spouses went out for dinner. We ate at the race track and enjoyed pre-dinner cocktails. If there d been a band, we might have danced, so you know where I stand on gambling, liquor, and happy feet. Plus, I ve been known to swear.
But today you ask if I m with on this prom nonsense or whether I ll don a habit, etc., and I think I may surprise you:
1) No, babe, I m afraid I m not with you this time.
2) Me = Protestant. No nun s habits, no wooden rulers. You ll have to somehow sweep away your unsettlingly vivid image of me
But here s where I am with you: I think the rules at Heritage Christian School that ensnared wannabe-prom-goer-student Tyler Frost are absurd. Unreal. So outdated as to be positively Old Testament; certainly not at all in keeping with my own religious beliefs.
I would never send a child of mine to such a school, so fundamentally do I disagree with this kind of interpretation of Christianity.
But if I did send my child there? In for a penny, in for a pound. In a letter sent out Friday to Heritage parents, the school reminded them that:
at the beginning of the school year, every family must sign a statement of cooperation. Students in 7th through 12th grades must also sign it. It doesn t say that you have to agree with them, but that [you] will all abide by them.
Davey, while you say you get the whole thing about rules ( even if I think they re silly ), your argument is essentially against the severity of the consequences.
I think that s beside the point.
What we re really talking about here is a religious private school s right to self-government.
More worrisome than all this prom business is when folks like those at Heritage School insist on exporting those beliefs and rules and customs and practices into public schools.
Hey, guess what? Actually, no one ever said you couldn t pray in school. Just don t assume everyone else should join you, or that they share your religion.
I am guessing the people who founded and continue Heritage School have closely held beliefs that are largely at odds with much of what goes on in public schools. Many fundamentalist Christians feel they are essentially counter-cultural, so discordant are their views from the larger society s. And in the case of Heritage, I m betting their solution was to open their own school.
That s exactly where a religiously based curriculum and all of Heritage s attendant rules against, say, dancing that s exactly where all of that belongs.
And if you send your kid there if you signed the paperwork, pay the tuition, deliver your offspring there every morning by those very actions, you agree to follow school policies, even if (as the school itself allowed) you don t agree with those policies.
And here s a kind of important thing to keep in mind about private religious schools, Dave: Their expectation that students do not limit the practice of religion to the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. is not unreasonable. The AP writes that Tyler s stepfather says the rules shouldn't apply outside of school and he may take legal action if Frost is suspended.
Yeah. Sorry. Not buying it.
I could not disagree more with what strikes me as Heritage Christian School's rigid vision of education or its joyless version of Christianity.
But none of that is what we re really talking about today.
I wholly support that institution s right to create and uphold the rules as they see fit within their private, religious school.
Love and kisses always,
Ginger Bert Rogers
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