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Posted at 3:56 PM ET, 06/18/2010

Student newspapers destroyed after editorial upsets P.E. teachers

By Valerie Strauss

This sounds like a parody of a high school, but it really happened at Albemarle High in Virginia:

High school student journalists wrote an editorial in their school newspaper, The Revolution, questioning whether athletes needed to take physical education classes.
P.E. teachers took offense. They complained.

The principal ordered the papers destroyed, according to the News & Advance of Lynchburg.


The principal, Jay Thomas, was quoted by the News as saying that he gave his destruction orders not only because the phys ed teachers were miffed.

“The quality of the paper — there [were] some typos in there — the impact to the author of the editorial,” Thomas said. “I think those were the main points of discussion when it was brought forward.”

But Sean Cudahy, the paper’s former editor in chief who just graduated, said he was in the meeting where the decision was made and typos weren’t the problem.

The newspaper staff writer who wrote the editorial is Ellie Leech, who will be The Revolution’s editor in chief during the next school year, said her First Amendment rights were violated.

She’s got that right, but there was another violation beyond that of the U.S. Constitution.

The principal violated the unwritten rule that an adult administrator should never take any action that is sillier than any of the actions taken by any teenager, given that teens' frontal lobs -- where goal-oriented rational thinking takes place -- is less active than in adults. For that matter, the whining physical education teachers violated the rule.

By the way, editions of The Revolution were reprinted two weeks later with the same material, minus the offending editorial. I don’t know about the typos.

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By Valerie Strauss  | June 18, 2010; 3:56 PM ET
Categories:  High School  | Tags:  The Revolution, albemarle high school, student editorial on athletes, student newspapers destroyed  
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Wouldn't this have been the perfect opportunity to discuss why PE is important - beyond the obvious need for daily physical activity. Maybe - I don't know - social emotional learning, raising self esteem, cooperation, leadership and team skills. Ive never understood why athletes are able to pass on PE - surely there is more to this school's PE than fitness or physical activity. Does someone on the chess team not have to do math, or someone on the debating team can get a pass from Language Arts? Whatever the truth behind this story the school and PE Dept should have started a debate on why PE is essential.

Posted by: arlington101 | June 18, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm confused as to why the PE teachers were upset about the editorial, or why it was destroyed- is the idea of athletes not taking PE offensive? This sounds like standard fare for a high school newspaper. I'd be interested to read more about the situation/what it actually said...

Posted by: sarahee | June 18, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Arlington101 thinks PE might be important "beyond the obvious need for daily physical activity. . . . Maybe - I don't know - social emotional learning, raising self esteem, cooperation, leadership and team skills."

What planet are you from? Self-esteem? Created by being told you are lazy because your asthma kept your from running hard or it's your fault the team lost because you were not so devoted you wanted to make the point even if you got your glasses broken?
Cooperation? When the "jocks" on the team elbow you out of the way to get the point themselves? Leadership? When a class period consists of standing in a row demonstrating to the teacher that you can grip a tennis racket properly?

The first step in improving P.E. is to get all the jocks--including the sports-crazy teacher who resents not being good enough for professional sports--out of the class so the students who need to learn an activity aren't intimidated.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | June 20, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

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