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Summerville High School Article in the Union Democrat

In Tuesday’s issue, Summerville High School was brought to the forefront of attention when it was attacked by charges made that were either unfounded, not researched fully, or libelous.

As a teacher and past student, and having been a part of the SHS community for the past 18 years, it saddens me that The Union Democrat, a publication that should be fair, balanced, and unbiased, would go to great lengths to write articles that are quite the antithesis of what good journalism stands for.

In the last article where issues regarding racism, plagiarism, and grading policies were addressed, none of the teachers, students, or school administrators, such as the grade level coordinators or principal, were allowed or encouraged to have a voice on any of these issues and the accusations made against the SHS staff.

The irony is that these very people are the ones who know first-hand what goes on at a school that has been known and applauded for providing a quality education, more opportunities for success, and community service and involvement. I would like to also recognize the fact that having been a student in many of these classes and having taught there as well, racism is not condoned by the staff.

I have, on different occasions, witnessed retribution for racist comments and acts on campus, as well as for the act of plagiarism. Conversely, many of our teachers use a variety of different curriculum, stories, and novels to combat this very issue that is in question.

However, this article, which only presents one side of the arguments at hand, was poorly written and represents sensationalism in its purest form. And while it is always frustrating to read articles that do not present two, if not all sides of an argument, what is even more devastating is that it is poor journalism that is impacting the very foundation of a school-a place where students should feel safe, teachers should be supported, and administrators should be able to focus their attention on ensuring student success. Instead, students, staff, teachers, and administrators are having to unravel the mess that this article has left behind, trying to combat fear, frustration, and rumors and instead of teaching our young men and women, we are having to spend much of this time reassuring our students that their school is not going to completely crumble and fall apart.

Sincerely,

Brianna Willis

English teacher, Summerville High School

B.A. Journalism, Point Loma Nazarene University

M.A. Teaching, Chapman University

Please note that I am writing on behalf of myself, a past student and current teacher, and not on behalf of the SHS staff.