OP-ED: When Will the Grown-Ups Grow Up?

Issues in Pelham Schools Seem to be Refocused From the Students to Their Parents

Lucy Edmunds, Co-Editor-in-Chief, Senior

Pelham, no exception from the rest of our nation, is facing a period of extreme division unlike any other. As all know by now, the Pelham School District has been under the spotlight, reaching national news, for Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ’s ban of, first, the Thin Blue Line flag and eventually all political symbols in Pelham Schools. This ban resulted in adults lashing out at one another via Facebook, angry comments on local news stories, and disrespect shown to the Superintendent of our schools. The issue may appear to be only with this symbol — one that was intended to support our police officer,  but can lead to the discomfort of others due to its alternate implications. However, the greater issue at hand is partisanship and disrespect.

The adults in our community have set a disastrous precedent for our youth, seemingly unable to maintain a civil discussion. What implications do these interactions have? From a young age, we are taught to learn how to listen to others, to understand their thoughts and feelings and to respect one another despite differences. This has been utterly disregarded in recent years. To see adults enraged over social media shows the younger generation that ‘if you don’t understand something, you are right and they are wrong.’ 

As a senior in high school, I feel more mature than many of these supposedly adult role models. I understand the importance of listening to what others have to say, and it is utterly disgraceful to me to see that this is more than the adult population of our community can say. The argument at hand should not be whether this symbol is offensive or not, but rather whether either side is even attempting to understand the views and opinions of the other. As of now, these “discussions” (the majority being online) have been moot, not aiding us in coming any closer to a consensus, but rather serving to rile up members of our community, setting them against one another, and teaching youth that this behavior is both acceptable and somehow effective. It is neither. Community members and parents of students who have exchanged these aggravated comments, for the world to see nonetheless, should reevaluate themselves and their values. 

Though this began as a school issue it has been overshadowed by the drama stirred by  adult members of the community who have nothing to do with this situation. Why are outsiders arguing over something that one is not directly involved in, especially when one has not conferred with those who are directly involved. It seems that some of the adults in this community have lost sight of what is important. Students should be able to share and express their thoughts and voices so that they can work towards fostering an educational environment that harbors only kindness and justice.

Our community is a microcosm of the nation, which has become so highly wound up that fear of what others may think, say, or even do to someone who speaks their mind is crippling enough to cause some to remain silent. I have heard very few students’ opinions on the topic, but an awful lot from a myriad of parents and even members of the community with no kids in the school system.

It is time that Pelham adults and youth alike learn the importance of discussion and listening. We must do our best to understand both sides of arguments that have, and will continue to come up. Incredible immaturity has been displayed on all sides and it is time that we all come together to understand one another. Freedom of speech is a concrete part of our nation’s values, but by no means is an incentive to disrespect others and blind ourselves from the views contrary to our own.