From the week of May 21, 2009
After reading Patricia Calhoun's column regarding the principal of North High School and his attendance policy, I am very disappointed. I find it sickening that this lazy student's behavior has now been rewarded by the publishing of this article, all because a pushy parent made a few calls to local news outlets. Tell me, what is the lesson that you have taught this student? Essentially, you have taught him that you don't have to be held accountable for your own wrongdoing. Isn't it wonderful that the kid gets to walk in graduation? Sure, but now let us think to the future: How is this lesson going to benefit him? I suspect it will have the opposite effect and will in fact be a detriment to him. One is only able to travel down the road of life so far on the lazy route. At some point, whether it is in college or at his future job, this student will have to step up to the plate and be responsible. Find an employer who will accept a call from a parent who demands that her son be not be fired, even though he only shows up to work three out of the five days in his work schedule. I commend Mr. Salem for his policy. He was hired to come into North High School and make changes, much-needed changes. This policy is a perfect first step. Children should not be rewarded for laziness, and it is appalling that Denver Public Schools did not defend Mr. Salem and his policy. Tell me, how is this school going to be able to turn itself around for the better if students are allowed to get away with such despicable behavior and not suffer a consequence?
I urge you to do a story on one of the 133 students who not only met all of the graduation requirements, but also showed up to class every day willing and ready to learn. I suspect you might uncover some really wonderful stories about students who had to overcome some major obstacles, all the while still managing to get to school every day, earning good grades, playing sports and working a job.
I read this article and am glad it "appears" that the high-absentee students will be allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony. However, you do not specifically say they will be treated like any other graduates. I am concerned they will be treated "differently" to satisfy the principal's original decree. Has the DPS instructed the principal to treat these students like any others with respect to their academic, extracurricular and athletic achievements for the ceremony? I would like to know if they have.
This administrator acted arbitrarily and discouraged the marginal or disadvantaged students. He should be making efforts to encourage them. His job is to educate and motivate, and not be a petty dictator.
Name withheld on request
Patricia Calhoun responds: All 180 graduating North High seniors — including the fifty who met DPS standards but not principal Salem's attendance requirement — were allowed to participate in graduation ceremonies on Saturday. Next month, DPS will announce recommended changes in citywide graduation requirements. In the meantime, for many more comments on this column, go to westword.com.
Jason Sheehan has given me PTSD. His abhorrence of the term "gastropub," mentioned no fewer than twelve times in his review of Jonesy's EatBar, led me to cringe with increasing ferocity as I read it. I was reading out loud to my partner and breathed a sigh of relief when the review was done. Then I turned the page. In Bite Me, gastropub appears an astonishing 25 TIMES! Methinks Jason was doing his own form of exposure therapy, increasing exposure to the word until he became desensitized. Again, I was reading aloud...starting to gag on the word...one time having to substitute "you know what." But I made it through. Then I turned to Second Helping. AAARRRGH!
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