Monday, May 16, 2011

James Tate is going to the Prom - Bad Idea?

If you have watched local or national news in the last week then I am sure you are familiar with the story of James Tate and Sonali Rodrigues.  James Tate is a senior at Shelton High school in Connecticut who decided to ask a fellow classmate to the prom by taping 4-6 inch cardboard letters to the side of the school building.   James was subsequently suspended for one day for trespassing because of course this was done at night after the school campus was closed.  Well that's when things started to get interesting.  Per Shelton's school policy, any senior who is suspended after April 1st, is banned from all senior activities including the senior prom.  For weeks prior to and following April 1st, notices regarding this policy have been posted around the campus to serve as a reminder for every student.  So with James' suspension, he obviously was banned from the prom per school policy.  James' exclusion from the prom for what some call a harmless and romantic gesture created a media firestorm that sparked its way through facebook, twitter, the Today show, and Jimmy Kimmel live just to name a few.  After suspension was handed down and said firestorm was just a mere blaze, School Head Master Beth Smith held a press conference to say that she would enforce the policy regarding suspension because students were aware of consequences for suspensions after April  1st.  I just paraphrased that by the way.  Since then, Head Master Smith has returned to the press to basically eat those words.  How very sad.  Due to pressure from several hundred thousand facebook fans, media scrutiny and oh yeah feedback from Government officials, she has had to make the first of many many exceptions to the schools rules regarding suspension for seniors after April 1st.   What's the harm you wonder?  The fact that so many adults have rallied the call for this young man to attend prom is part of the harm.  It is a huge deal that he would have been unable to attend his prom, but he was well aware of the stated consequences for any actions that would result in suspension.   So we are once again sending the message to our children that rules don't really matter.  Apply enough pressure from facebook, throw in a few late night show appearances and don't forget to have the Mayor and School Superintendent of whatever school you are trying to overthrow weigh in,  and poof all is forgiven, rules are null and void!!!!    For his disregard of school policy James has been offered everything from a free limo, to an entire venue to hold an alternate prom if he wants.  Lucky for Shelton High, he's going to stay put and party with them for prom.  A couple of my favorite comments from James Tate were (paraphrased okay) " I thought the school would appreciate my creativity and sincerity"  maybe he should have written a nice note or even taped his creativity and sincerity to her house or maybe her car.  Next comment " I was willing to clean it up".  Well I hope so James, I hope so.  From what I can tell, most of James' classmates have supported him, but lets see if that continues since there is now a push to crown him prom king and Sonali prom queen.  The students who actually campaign for those coveted titles better hurry and maybe spray paint the school building with something clever like "vote for me".  They would then be a shoe in for the crown, but, they better be willing to clean it up.