Generic Pep Rally Response #978


By Patrick Pontes

Let’s face it: if you attend Hopkinton High School, then you already know about the Pep Rally banning issue. If you don’t, then just talk to somebody who does go there if you’re truly interested. Now, before I say anything at all: yes. This ban has problems. I’m pretty sure that’s been agreed upon at this point. Here’s a little list of what I find wrong with it:

1) It’s not that I, or most other students, don’t understand why this course of action took place. I get the need to protect these kids from physical and psychological harm. If that means that kids can’t tag, then so be it; to my knowledge, it isn’t and never has been a huge part of Pep Rally. However, taking action against kids wearing colored shirts isn’t exactly the most direct way you could address this problem, and in the long run, it seems more harmful that helpful. If your school board executives are trying to reduce the amount of harmful treatment given to these innocent kids, then putting a huge dent in the fun of everybody in a school of nearly 1000 impressionable and angst-filled teenagers on behalf of those kids in question is probably going to have the opposite of your intended effect.

2) Perhaps this might be just me here, but I fail to see the logic in putting this mandate into motion in this context. Removing a piece of the potential for harassment from students for one single day of the year and basically doing nothing visibly effective for every other day is just silly. This is the only day on which this law has relevance while the other 179 days of the year could also benefit from some anti-bullying attention. It might just be that this is the only day on which the administration has had trouble with bullies, but we know that’s not true. If this law, the anti-bullying law, is going to be put into practice to a huge extent, then its current, narrow scope will have absolutely no effect on the overall treatment of students—except, of course, for this one day: Pep Rally. Shirts or no shirts, bullying will still continue.

Now, all of that aside, my main point of writing this isn’t just to agree with all of the sludge that’s been hurled at this ban. I want my focus to be on the people who haven’t been really criticized so far: us. If you’re one of those kids that’s sent letters or requests to try to repeal this ban and are wondering why you haven’t gotten a response, you’d do well to listen here.

From what I can gather, people in this school aren’t concerned with having their shirts painted a different color. That’s irrelevant… or, at least it should be. What they are concerned with is how they’re being represented by the school board. They’re angry that they’re being grouped together with a couple of smoked-out ne’er-do-wells and being treated like criminals for a crime they didn’t commit. I completely agree. What I think is the problem is the way in which most students are going about disagreeing with this ban.

I’ve heard plenty of kids talking about some form of rebellion, from wearing goofy clothes (or none at all), to organizing private rallies outside the school, to making signs and marching around the school, and even a few suggestions for some kind of revolution. The problem with all of these kids is that they’re basically trying to fight with a brick wall. You can’t talk to, you can’t reason with, and you most certainly can’t try to fight the school board. All of it has been set in stone:  you still won’t be able to wear your shirts, no matter how much you kick or scream or cry or protest. Deal with it. What you can do is try to reverse the conditions that got you here in the first place.

The main point which I’m trying to get to here is that the anger and revolution shouldn’t be against the school board. It should be against the nature of bullying that the school board has acted against order to prevent harassment and eventual lawsuits. If you truly think that this ban shouldn’t be in place, as I do, then show them that it doesn’t need to be in place. Make it your duty to shun and discourage anyone who tries to bully another student. Those people, the ones who tend to bully, are actually weak, small in number, and give up really easily. As a student of the Hopkinton High School, it’s your duty to make your school a better place to attend, both for yourself and for your peers.

But the biggest problem with the ban is that it makes this form of redemption impossible. Kids on Pep Rally can’t have the chance to tell people to stop tagging people who don’t want to be tagged because they don’t have the option to do so anymore. Kids are losing the chance to act as a school unit. Instead of using their energies to battle the malicious elements in their own numbers (which is to say, the bullies), the administration has set itself up as a target for the wrath. Kids can’t have a chance to show that they can act collectively as a school to do something great (which is the whole point of the HHS Pep Rally, if I remember correctly) because that thing is being done for them by a small group of adult administrators. And there you have it: this whole ban, the purpose of which is to eliminate competition and bring the school together as a whole, is ironically doing the exact opposite.

But I also know now that the students of this school aren’t going to fight this bullying issue. They’re going to fight something that they want to fight, which is the school itself. They want to think that the big, bad adults of the school board are taking away their freedom and identity, to think that they’re rebelling against the evil Sauron and charging the gates of Mordor in an attempt to restore peace and justice to the land of Middle Earth. It’s some sort of pathetic attempt to recreate the sense of rebellious patriotism in which America was born during the Revolutionary War, and kids are trying to dramatize this ban like the many unlawful acts that the British Empire laid down on them without their consent. These kids are acting just like that: kids, immature little brats who are ignoring a real issue in an attempt to try to legitimize themselves as repressed reformers and defenders of freedom and justice. When you talk about revolutionizing, you’re doing your whole school an injustice by making yourself look as if you lack the intellectual capacity to be able to handle real issues. You look like you aren’t in the right about anything because you lack the maturity to understand the issue. You really want to know why the school board isn’t respecting you and why it’s treating you like a child? It’s because you aren’t respecting them and you are acting like a child.

And people wonder why Fox News reported on this.

Personally, I just want this whole thing to calm down. It’s tired, and it makes us look like idiots–all of us: school board members, students, and the people who aren’t even involved. We can do better than this. We are better than this. So show it.


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