Principal: Why Helen Thomas was dropped as school speaker
Veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas was disinvited to be graduation speaker at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Md., because she recently said in an interview that Israelis should “get the hell” out of Palestine and return to places such as Poland, Germany and the United States.
She apologized after the comments became national news, but Whitman Principal Alan S. Goodwin clearly had no other choice but to drop her as speaker (the day should be about the kids, not the mind-bogglingly stupid comments), even if Whitman did not have a fairly substantial Jewish population.
Goodwin sent an e-mail to the school community last evening saying he would soon announce a new speaker. Here’s the text of his message:
To the Whitman Community:
On June 14th, we will be holding our commencement program for our 2010 graduates. The focus of the day is to celebrate their accomplishments in the midst of parents, siblings, grandparents, and friends at Constitution Hall. The class of 2010 has much to celebrate as they make the transition to college, the military, trade work, and more. The class of 2010 earned the highest SAT scores in MCPS [Montgomery County Public Schools], sent several athletic teams far into playoff rounds, earned the highest honors in the arts, and contributed over 40,000 hours of community service. We are proud of all they have achieved.
In recent days, a controversy has arisen concerning our highly regarded graduation speaker, Ms. Helen Thomas, White House Correspondent for 60 years. Graduation celebrations are not the venue for divisiveness. Graduation is the time for a cohesive and joyous celebration of our students’ achievements; other forums exist for discussions of political issues. I spoke to Ms. Thomas’ representative who indicated that Ms. Thomas understands the tensions generated by the situation and would welcome the opportunity to meet with students during the next school year to share her observations on contemporary affairs, rather than speak at our commencement ceremony.
I will announce a new graduation speaker within the next few days.
Although this development may understandably disappoint some parents and students because of their different viewpoints, I am asking, once again, for all of us to focus collectively on the jubilant celebration of 450 seniors and their families who have worked hard to share this festive occasion within the Whitman community.
For this brief moment, let it be a time of remembrance and commemoration: a time to gather and to embrace.
On June 14th, let us celebrate our concerted dedication to educational excellence. Thank you.
Posted by Alan Goodwin
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| June 7, 2010; 6:30 AM ET
Categories: Montgomery County Public Schools | Tags: helen thomas, helen thomas and graduation speaker, helen thomas and whitman, helen thomas dropped as graduation speaker, walt whitman high, whitman high graduation
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