Quote of the day
"We are shut up in schools and college recitation rooms for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bellyful of words and do not know a thing. "
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thursday, April 10, 2008
An open letter we received...
Dear Mount Si Parents,
Thank you for posting the message from CoDE concerning Snoqualmie Valley School District policy in regards to the upcoming Day of Silence.
This lawyeresque analysis of SVSD policy governing demonstrations must have been written by a CoDE member who either is not a parent of a Mount Si High School student, or if s/he is a parent, then either did not bother to discuss the matter with her/his child or, if such a discussion did occur, completely missed the element of high school culture to which the Day of Silence truly belongs.
The Day of Silence is not a demonstration, but an act of solidarity. If any parallels are to be drawn between the Day of Silence and other school activities, they properly belong among those, for instance, held during Spirit Week and on other special occasions. For those readers unfamiliar with our school’s culture, a brief explanation of Spirit Week will suffice, followed by an example of another type of activity that sometimes takes place at Mount Si.
Each day leading up to the homecoming game in October is filled with activities designed to rally school spirit. Monday, for example, is p.j. day – yep, students and staff alike are encouraged to wear their pajamas to school. Are they required to? No. Are signs about p.j. day posted around school so students can know what’s happening and when? Yes. Everyone knows this is a voluntary activity, the purpose of which is simply to declare your school spirit.
The days following p.j. day are assigned any number of themes by student organizers and the week usually ends with class color day – freshmen wear white, sophomores red, juniors grey and seniors black or camo colors. Is everyone required to wear their colors? Again, no. The choice about participating is left to each individual: you may abstain entirely; participate only in those activities with which you feel comfortable; or go whole-hog and vie to outdo everybody else in an outlandish show of school spirit. And, what is school spirit, but a show of solidarity with past, present and future generations of Mount Si students.
Let’s now take a look at another example of school solidarity from the opposite end of the emotional spectrum.
Two years ago, MSHS student Tess Sollitto drowned in the Snoqualmie River shortly before the start of the school year. Some of her classmates decided to help raise funds for a scholarship in her honor and did so by selling plastic pink wristbands (pink being Tess’s favorite color). Were students and staff required to purchase these wristbands? No, of course not. Those who did, however, did so to contribute monetarily to the scholarship fund, but also – and perhaps more importantly – as a show of caring and support for Tess’s family and friends who had suffered a terribly tragic loss.
Were people who did not purchase and/or wear one of these wristbands regarded by those who did as uncompassionate or heartless? Of course not. The absence of a pink band meant nothing – there was no judgment cast, no ostracism, no ill will. At the same time no one at the school did anything to oppose this solidarity activity. Had a student, for instance, worn a t-shirt ridiculing the pink wristbands or made mean spirited remarks to one of Tess’s friends, few would have had much sympathy if the provocative act elicited harsh words or even a slap.
Solidarity – this is what the Day of Silence is all about – like wearing a red-white-and-blue necktie on the 4th of July or a Mariners cap to Safeco Field. Participation in acts of solidarity are completely voluntary and always welcome; non-participation doesn’t usually register on anybody’s radar screen; and oppositional participation, depending on the degree of hostility, is either ignored or responded to (preferably in a constructive manner).
The oppositional activity of CoDE to the Day of Silence is, simply put, heartless and hostile – heartless toward those gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students who fear being open about who they are, and hostile toward those GLBT students and their friends who simply want to make MSHS a safe and supportive place for each and every student.
I have much faith in the goodness of people, and sincerely hope that CoDE will support the Gay/Straight Alliance and use its influence to help make the Day of Silence at Mount Si on April 25th a day of goodwill between participants and non-participants alike.
9 April 2008