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Posted: 4/6/2006 4:13:37 AM EDT
Looks like the libs are in firm control of one more school.

School assembly bashed Bush and war, critics complain
By Kathryn Gill, Correspondent
04/06/2006


Some Rondout Valley High School parents and students are upset about what they call a "mandatory anti-Bush, anti-war assembly" last week that they said presented only one point of view.

Dawn Curley of Kerhonkson said her two teenagers came home upset after being required to attend a "poetry slam" on March 27. The event was part of Wake Up Week, a five-day event organized by the high school's Synthesis Club.

"This mandatory assembly consisted of poets in the area ridiculing the president of the U.S. and the war," Curley said. "This is where our tax dollars are going? These students have a right to make their own decisions as to whether or not they want to enlist in the service and defend our country."

Curley's 16-year-old daughter, Heather VanEtten, said she was forced to attend the poetry assembly as part of her English class. "I didn't see how that had anything to do with English," she said.

During the event, Julia Walsh, a New Paltz village trustee and a co-founder of the Synthesis Club, read poetry that VanEtten described as "anti-war." She said one poem contained the line "Uncle Sam can't have you," implying that young people should not sign up for the military.

"I have a friend that went (into the military) and he said, 'It was the most amazing experience of my life,'" VanEtten said. She wondered why no positive points of view concerning military service were represented.

"I kept looking at my teacher like, 'We shouldn't be here, it's not right,'" VanEtten said. VanEtten said that while she did not ask to leave the assembly, friends of hers were denied permission to leave.

Walsh said she was not aware that the assembly was mandatory.

"The poetry had to do with tolerance," she said. "(The poets) weren't promoting any one belief system; they were just performing."

Eileen Camasso, the district's interim superintendent, said attendance at the assembly was not mandatory and that students could make special requests to leave. She said she recalled that two girls asked to leave the assembly and were granted permission with no consequence.

Otherwise, Camasso said, she has received only positive feedback about Wake Up Week, which she described as a student-run activity.

"Synthesis is a community-based organization working to inspire, educate and empower youth and students to actively engage in creating a culturally vibrant, socially democratic and ecologically sustainable world," Walsh said, reading from the club's mission statement.

"As an organization, we don't promote any one viewpoint," she added.


©Daily Freeman 2006
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