PUBLISHER mandy phillips
This past weekend, Facebook became the go-to platform for Grundy Countians and others to voice their opinion on the latest scandal at Grundy County High School. In case you missed it, I’m referring to the school administration’s questionable choice to name a junior as the Class of 2018 valedictorian. You can catch up on the situation by reading the corresponding article on Page 1A of this edition of the Herald.
There are numerous problems with the administration’s decision. I’ll only list a few.
→A policy was in place not only at the beginning of the school year, but way back in 2015 when this year’s graduating class entered the school as freshmen. Why was this policy suddenly changed at the beginning of 2018 to allow a junior to graduate as valedictorian?
→Why does this policy change apply to this year’s seniors? It would seem only fair that the policy would become effective for next school year’s entering freshmen. How can a policy change be made and implemented, one with such far-reaching implications, when this year’s senior class has only months until graduation.
→If one policy can be changed so close to graduation date, why is the administration refusing to change another policy and allow the Class of 2018 to have co-valedictorians?
All of this was hotly debated on social media, but no answers have been forthcoming from GCHS principal Deidre Helton, assistant principal Adam Floyd, Director of Schools Jessie Kinsey, or any school board member. Based on past actions of the administration when faced with unpleasant realities, the social media universe and county residents probably knew no answer or acceptable solution would be forthcoming. They turned to Facebook to voice their frustrations and concerns.
It is important to note the silence from the administration did not stop their friends (many school employees bound by a social media contract) and family members from taking to the internet in attempts to vaguely explain the actions of those whom they support.
And this is where we saw the true ugliness of the situation. The most telling to me was a post from Sarah Campbell Layne, the sister of the principal at GCHS. She spoke of how close her family is and how misunderstood Deidre Helton is in the situation. And then the kicker – she stated, “From the actions of Mr. Sanders I would like to take a guess of where he will go from here…no where (sic).”
Wait, did the sister of the principal just say a student would go nowhere in life? Yes, she did. And it flew all over people who called her out for her comment. The woman attempted to retract her statement by saying, “Or actually no I am better than this. Let me retract what I commented about him going no where (sic).” She said she hoped Mr. Sanders did amazing things with his life and even threw in a little Jesus for good measure.
“In the end we are all children of our Heavenly Father, who has a desire for us to live in peace.”
So, all good, right? She apologized, and, in my opinion, correctly stated that God wishes for us to live in peace.
But, this is social media so it didn’t end there and it didn’t end well. A few moments later it was evident the Holy Spirit had left her because she posted, “I feel that feeling entitled to be an exception to the rule will leave you empty in life and get you no where (sic).”
The students at GCHS, including the two who thought as recently as last Monday that they would be named valedictorian and salutatorian, and Trevor Sanders who received three days of in school suspension and a night in jail for stating his beliefs, have not been this cruel. In fact, while the majority of students appear to be unhappy with the situation, they are willing to accept co-valedictions for the Class of 2018. I have not seen any social media posts from students that were as full of vitriol as is the ones from Ms. Layne.
Remember, Trevor Sanders only spoke out in support of his classmates and was punished. He has publicly stated that he has nothing against the junior named as valedictorian and was only expressing his beliefs and supporting his friends. On the other hand, Ms. Layne, with close connections to the school principal, verbally attacked a student. Trevor is standing behind his comments; Ms. Layne deleted her Facebook posts.
The good and the bad of Facebook. It offers a wonderful platform for debate. And, it offers us a glimpse into the person behind the keyboard. What I learned this weekend was that an amazing generation of young people are more eloquent than some adults. I am excited to see what they do in the future and know they will go somewhere as opposed to nowhere.