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Graphic images had no place at assembly
(Editor's note: The following is a copy of a Nov. 9 letter sent to North Bend Elementary and the Snoqualmie Valley School District.)
I was honored to be a part of your Veterans Day celebration at North Bend Elementary today. My son, Michael, has been excited for days about the assembly and has been practicing his songs for weeks. It was also a pleasure for me to be invited to his classroom by Mrs. Scappucci to share my experiences and what it means to me to be a veteran.
I thought it was a great assembly until I saw the slide show. I was horrified to see the pictures of the planes flying into the Twin Towers and to hear a news excerpt of a woman talking about people jumping and falling out of the burning buildings. The images brought me to tears as I noticed children in the audience crying as well. I am stunned and shocked that you allowed kindergartners to sit in the front row of the assembly and watch that slide show. There was no note sent home to ask the parents if this was something we wanted our children to see.
As I understand it, a note is sent home to let the parents decide if we want our children to participate in menial field trips, but no note to authorize our children to be subjected to violent, graphic images such as those displayed in your slide show. I am saddened by the lack of responsibility your administration has shown.
I was surprised again when the slide show was followed by a dozen or more scripture quotations read from the Bible. Was any consideration given to the children who do not practice Christianity, or even those that do? Is religion going to be allowed back in school when you see fit? I believe this to be extremely insensitive. One of the main reasons this world is in such chaos is the intolerance of religion(s) and religious freedoms worldwide. Quoting scripture form the Bible does not help everyone to deal with their troubled feelings that have just been stirred up, nor do I in any way give my permission for my child to be exposed to the teachings of any religion by anyone other than myself.
As a parent, I made a choice to shield my child from the graphic images of that day and to explain in words what took place. My parental rights were infringed upon today. I feel like my child's responsibility is to be a child and have fun; they have enough challenges just doing that, let alone dealing with world events. I believe my child at the age of 8 is too young to filter fantasy from reality, and therefore I deem it unnecessary for him to view the television and or newspaper press coverage of the tragedy of Sept. 11, or of the war we are now in. It is of the utmost importance that my children feel safe and secure, especially at school.
When I was watching the presentation today, as I said above, I noticed several adults and children moved to tears from the weight of the display. I was sorry to see that when the presentation was over, there was no announcement to the children that there would be someone for them to talk with, i.e.: school counselors or therapists. How can we as adults expect these children, ages 5-11, to deal with their feelings and fears alone?
Veterans Day is a day of remembrance. It is a day to honor servicemen and women who made great sacrifices to allow us to live our lives and practice religion(s) freely in the United States of America. It is a time to share in the pain, but also the pride and honor of coming to the aid of your country. It is a day to remember what our Veterans did for our country and to celebrate the victories and strides we have made to become the strongest country in the world. I don't see a need to bring the Sept. 11 tragedy into light on this day.
I attended North Bend Elementary School as a child and made the choice to send my child there because of the memories I had of a wonderful school environment and education. I feel that my vision was tainted today. I believe that as a society we all agree there is too much violence on television and in the movies, however, such violent and horrific images are shown to young children at school - the place they are supposed to feel safe. How sad.
This letter is written as a plea to you as an educational administration to strive for excellence in just that, education. I am encouraging you to thoughtfully process and filter what is shown to the youth of our Valley. It is of utmost importance to me that if ever a display of this graphic and vulgar nature is to be shown again, that special consideration be shown to all parents with a note explaining the nature of the material to be shown and let us choose for ourselves if we indeed want our children to view it. I have great pride in the community I live in and know great and successful people will come from its educational system as always have.
Rodney M. Poepping