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 Laramie Project 
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What do you believe as an administrator should happen to the Laramie performance if it was scheduled at your school and there was community discontent over the performance?

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Kami McKay


Wed Mar 21, 2007 9:36 pm
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The show should go on. First of all the principal screwed up big time by not understanding what was happening from the beginning. He could have prepared the community for the program at his own pace rather than it exploding without him having any control. Regardless, what could be more important than young people expressing their dislike of hate in an artistic form? As long as we bury these issues they will always haunt us and we are bound to repeat them.

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Neil Atkins


Thu Mar 22, 2007 4:31 pm
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You are the man Neil!! I could not have said it better. You

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Stephanie Williams


Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:53 pm
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I hate it when you get cut off before you finish. I must be clumsier than I thought. What I wanted to say is that "The Laramie Project" theme can be equated to dirty laundry. The longer you pile it up and leave it in a hidden location, like under your bed, the stinkier and smellier it becomes. It takes bringing it out, washing it and hanging it up for all to see before we can put it back on and feel good about ourselves.

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Stephanie Williams


Thu Mar 22, 2007 6:02 pm
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The situation is going to need a multi-pronged approach. Listening to the concerns of the religious groups is important as well as listening to the students voices over an issue that is affecting their lives in a serious way. I find it hard to believe that the parents of these AP students and the drama students have not been aware of the controversial nature of the production. These parents don't typically stay in the background silently disinterested in the comings and goings of their children. Also, they generally have influence in the community and in the political arena of the education programs such as school boards and service clubs. The principal will need to weigh the fallout from whatever stand he decides to make and act in the best interest of the students and the school.

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Jackie Shaw


Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:42 pm
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This situation sounds quite familiar with what we learned in Dr. Hall's school law class about open public forum. If you are going to allow the show to go on then you will also need to consider allowing the relgiious people to present their point of view. Other groups with other views might also want to view their opinions in the future. Where do you draw the line? Does a line have to be drawn? What will the school board, superintendents, and community think of you as administrator after you allow such a performance.

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Chris McKay

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Sun Mar 25, 2007 9:43 pm
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Chris,

I don't think that you will ever have the entire support of the community if play like this is put on. I would hope that I would have informed the superintendent about the performance. Not because of the worry about the reaction, but to offer him/her an invite.

In regards to the play going on, I would say YES. The students had worked so hard and were willing to go on with the performance even with the community's reactions.

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Tim Hoffman


Thu Mar 29, 2007 4:35 pm
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obviously the principal let the play go to far without properly looking at the ramifications.. but is this the kind of situation that you must put your foot down on, even if the kids have worked hard on it?

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Kami McKay


Sun Apr 01, 2007 9:09 pm
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Well, you know me, I'm in support of the Arts.... and obviously in the public school system you will not gain the support of everyone. I am agreeance that parents surely knew what the play was about, and it's good for students to study some adversity. We can't shelter them forever. As for the administration, I would hope that close guidance through the central office would pull the school through, sometimes we (my school) have just as much controversy over an issue when our starting football players have been suspended right before the big rival game! (not to make light of the situation, just to make a point that controversy is everywhere)

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Amy Scronce


Mon Apr 02, 2007 11:39 am
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Personally, I would allow the play to go on. Even if I knew the content of the play beforehand, from what I know about the play it is about tolerance and understanding. Besides, I do not take anything Westboro Baptist Church has to say seriously. This is the group that posts a web site called GodHatesFags.Com. While this group is certainly entitled to its beliefs, even if they are misguided, I would not dignify their message of hate and intolerance by even talking with them. I would use the media to counter their ugliness by calling attention to who this group really is. Too often we dignify such groups by trying to appease them. This group cannot be appeased and nor should they be. In spite of this group's efforts to stir up too much hatred and community protest, I think this is one of the times I would have to draw a line in the sand and stand firm. I would not give in. The show would go on, even if it meant my job.

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Mon Apr 02, 2007 4:23 pm
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John,
If the church contacts the school complaining about the play, it would not be a good idea to ignore them or to address the issue through the media. Most often I have found that direct confrontation over issues like this leads to solutions or at least it lets the complainer be heard. Once they voice their concerns, we can fall back on policy to determine our course of action. Also, we can bring in the big guns from the central office. Remember, they get paid the big bucks to deal with the public on issues like this. I would never go this alone, nor would I sacrifice my job when the decision could be made by my boss. Granted, I would have to live with what the boss decided. That's why I would try the direct approach with the group first.

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Jackie Shaw


Mon Apr 02, 2007 4:49 pm
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Jackie, we are not talking about the nice quiet white clapboard church down the street. This Westboro bunch does not even live in the same town. They thrive on stirring up controversy, just look at their web site. In this case you do not ignore them, you fight them. You resist them. You do not give credence to their hate and intolerance. Naturally you want central office backing on this. My best guess would be that any central office would cave in on this one. I really think a leader has to be willing to draw the line at some point, and that may even mean standing alone apart from central office. Of course I would lose my job, but a leader has to have principles. I will not compromise with intolerance and hate. What is important to me is not to give in to these people. This is one time I would sacrifice my job. These people are not just some religious group. It is a hate group that would be on the same par as the Klu Klux Klan.

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Last edited by John Robinson on Tue Apr 03, 2007 10:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.



Mon Apr 02, 2007 9:49 pm
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I have also done some research on that Westboro group and I agree that this group is not willing to listen to anyone. Their main objective is to stir up controversy with their websites to express their viewpoints. Isn't sad that these people turn up at the funeral processions of our fallen soldiers who have given their lives to protecting our country. This group harasses the families of these soldiers in order to protest the war.

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Chris McKay

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Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:31 pm
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Neil, Steph and John...I would feel proud to stand by your side in this decision. Folks with your stamina and backbone are exactly what we need to make this world a better place. Stand Strong in Your Beliefs! I should hope that I would stand just as firmly should I have to make such a decision. If we do what we've always done....we'll get what we've always gotten!

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Rosanna Whisnant


Tue Apr 03, 2007 10:31 am
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I, too, agree that the show must go on. But this should be a lesson...keep open lines of communication and make sure that all events, such as this one, are signed off by the Principal and central office folks, if necessary. This is a touchy area that can be interpreted many different ways...and you will NEVER please everyone.

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Leigh Anne Frye


Tue Apr 03, 2007 12:29 pm
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What if there were a collection of skits held within the theater setting where all these issues of diversity were covered? What if there was a portion of "Raisin in the Sun", "Laramie project," "Joan of Arc," "On Golden Pond," etc.? Do you think people could pull from these that each one is just trying to live a life worth living?

Sometimes I feel that if we could just think about what we are doing, things would go easier. Soemtimes I feel that if we ignore some things, we might move past it to become better. It reminds me of "Positive feedback." If we give good attention to what is good, the wickedness is minimized?


Thu Apr 05, 2007 4:36 pm
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I am not sure what the principal did in the early stages of this situation. Obviously, to not know what is the subject of a play to be performed on your campus is inexcusable. However, if you have given consent to perform such a play, if you have informed the central office about the content of the play, to run and hide behind the apron strings of the central office when conflict arises is not being principled. Had I approved the students performance of this play, I would firmly stand behind them, even if it meant the central office reversed my decision.

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Sun Apr 08, 2007 10:16 pm
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I too feel that the show must go on. We don't know the extent of the principal's knowledge of the play when it was first brought up. However, let this serve as a reminder to all of us to not act rashly and approve a play just to get one more item off the to-do list. Having a trusting and open relationship with the faculty will help ensure open communication with the teachers involved. Take the time to talk with them and look over the script. Many of you have already said you will never please everyone. How true. At the same time, you need to know your community. We must make decisions based on what is best for our students, teachers, and community. We cannot make this a perosnal issue. We cannot make a decision based on what we personally feel should happen. We cannot think of ourselves, but of our school. John, if you try to counter this group in the media, you better be careful. The tone and wording would need to be just right. Again, this is not a personal issue, and should not come out that way in the media.

In this situation, as presented, I would want to meet with the teachers involved. Depending on the history of parent involvement at the school, a meeting with the students in the play and their parents may be warranted. At this point, alot of work has gone into this play and I would want the play to go on.

This is a tough one. I must admit that I've struggled with an answer. I know what I would want personally, but like I've said this is not a personal issue. To me, there are a lot of unknowns - the school culture, the school community, parental involvement, history of the type of plays put on at the school, ..... Chris and John, thank you for your insight and research into the group involved - the fact that they are not even a part of this particular community plays an important role in the final decision.

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Lisa Fortenberry


Mon Apr 09, 2007 3:19 pm
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I think touching base with your staff is definitely a must no matter what decision the administration decides to make.

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Kami McKay


Mon Apr 09, 2007 10:35 pm
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I think in the given circumstance the show should continue. I agree with most of what has been said. However, as originally stated by Kami if this were the school I currently work at and the community, the show would most likely be stopped by external forces beyond the principals authority. At my school the principal probably would have no choice but to stop the show. One other option that I may consider would be a change in venue.

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Heath Belcher


Wed Apr 11, 2007 9:01 am
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