District, not just Milwaukie HS, must step up to the plate
In the April 18, 2008 issue, the co-editors-in-chief of The Milwaukian (Milwaukie High School student newspaper) addressed a letter to the student body. This letter beckons students to 'step up to the plate.' While this letter makes valid points about changes that do, in fact, need to occur here, I disagree with some statements put forth in this letter, beginning with:
'If we are tired of being pinned as a lesser school from both an academic and athletic standpoint, we are the only ones who can change it.'
While changes do originate on a personal level, success in an academic or athletic setting is a team effort. Why is our newspaper, a beacon and example for MHS, not showing the positives of our school in favor of telling us to 'step up to the plate?' The fact of the matter is, we as a student body are not entirely to blame for the problems that do, in truth, exist at Milwaukie High. For the editors of the school newspaper to put blame for the atmosphere at MHS at the feet of its students is insulting.
A main contributor to our situation is the attitude of Mr. Ron Naso, our superintendent, who said that, 'I can't say to you that kids across the board at Milwaukie High School are getting a great education, and that's worrisome.' Mr. Naso has failed to make any direct changes, let alone significant improvements at MHS during my high school tenure. How nice it must be to have the ability to ignore an institution under one's jurisdiction and responsibility to change, and then question the manner in which the abandoned faculty and administration chooses to lead it. How many times has Mr. Naso walked the halls of Milwaukie High School? How many times has he sat in on the lectures of our teachers? In my four years at MHS, I can count the total times I've seen him in one of my classrooms easily - zero. If this is the case, where does he get the audacity to antagonize our school without provocation? Mr. Naso's opinions are far from ignorable, especially when the editors of our newspaper agree with him whole-heartedly.
'If you take a look at our academic track record, you probably won't be impressed.'
This is how we inspire our student body? Aren't the editors here supposed to represent our point of view positively, especially in light of all the bad press we've received? To see our newspaper - the voice of MHS throughout the community and state - endorsing this statement is disappointing. The stimulus we need to make improvements in our student body cannot be found through the condescending tone the editors of The Milwaukian use in this letter. Perhaps our academic record isn't something to be 'impressed' by. Is this to say that the four years my classmates and I have spent here are futile? The discussions we've had in our classes, the research projects we've created, the things I have come to learn aren't worthy because they aren't 'impressive?'
The ability to realize our potential cannot be achieved through autonomy. Imagine a boat, whipped around by currents and gusts during a devastating storm. This boat cannot make it to shore simply because the crew exerts more effort. There are outside forces that are necessary to support this process. The students of Milwaukie High are the crew of this boat. We cannot do this alone. The issues and problems that are out of our control to rectify will remain as such until we receive support from the school district, which has cast us into this great storm without navigation.
'Aren't we all tired of being the 'bad school,' the 'poor school,' the 'stupid school?''
This is the mindset of two of the most influential people at our school, and I find it unacceptable. Why are we simply accepting that we are the 'poor' school, the 'stupid' school or the 'bad' school? It is a travesty against everything it means to be a Mustang. I may not have had a perfect high school experience. But I am proud to be a Mustang. I refuse to believe that we haven't 'stepped up to the plate' adequately as a student body. If there is a problem, and I believe we are all in agreement that there is, we should be looking at all sides of the spectrum to find its source, not merely assuming we are completely at fault.
We live in a society today where social stance is key, where moral fiber and effort are for the unprivileged masses rather than for everyone, as our founding fathers intended. By remaining passive and blaming only ourselves for the predicament that Milwaukie High School is currently in, we support this mantra. I am not suggesting that we blame the district for our school becoming the butt of countless jokes. Nor am I suggesting a march to the district office demanding a retraction of Ron Naso's statements against MHS. I am, however, suggesting that we take accountability for our own actions, and see that the district officials who ignore Milwaukie High as a formidable and worthwhile school take responsibility for their own. This country never could have been founded if we had not questioned authority when authority behaved questionably, so why are we simply accepting the arbitrary statements of Mr. Naso now?
We should be inspired by our school newspaper, not blamed for things over which we have no control. Poisonous descriptors such as 'poor,' 'bad' and 'stupid' belong outside the halls of MHS, not in print to 1,100-plus students and countless community members. The Milwaukian has a responsibility to inform, to enthuse its readers to deduce their own truths from information given. It is my belief that the detrimental words in the 4/18 issue's letter disheartens the frame of mind of our school further, an outlook that has already been shaken to the core by its superintendent.
Kirstie Donaldson is a senior at Milwaukie High School.