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Citizen vs. High School: Obama speech required

by Larry S. Chowning

The way Middlesex High School officials handled President Barack Obama’s national back-to-school message to students brought criticism from one county citizen at a September 14 school board meeting.

“I want to thank Dr. [James] Lane for allowing the entire school (St. Clare Walker Middle School) to hear our president’s speech,” said Cynthia Beverley of Wake during the meeting’s public input session. “The students at Middlesex High School were told they could watch the speech at the media center, if they so desired.”

Beverley said all students should have been required to attend the airing of Obama’s speech. She said she was told that some parents did not want their children watching the speech because it took away from classroom time on the first day of school, while some other students just did not want to watch it.

Beverley said MHS officials should have required the “back-to-school speech” be attended by all students, and those students who did not want to watch could have quietly read a book.

By not requiring the entire high school to attend the airing of the speech, Beverley said she felt it was disrespectful to President Obama. “We are supposed to be teaching our children about respect,” she said. “Maybe I’m from the old school about respect, but I think respect is listening to the leader of our country.”

In another matter, Pika Wake of Wake, who runs an after-school volunteer program at Grafton Baptist Church in Hartfield, complained that school buses no longer drop students off at the church to attend her program, as the buses have done the past four years.

Wake said 36 students were involved in the program at the church last year, and that her program motivates children to do better in school and in life. “We don’t understand why it’s been done for the past four years and now, all of a sudden, it can’t be done,” she said. “The kids are benefiting from the program and it’s all volunteer.”

School officials did not respond at the meeting. The school board has a policy not to respond publicly to issues brought up during the public input session at board meetings.

posted 09.23.2009

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