Guam Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez told The Guam Daily Post on Monday that he had not received any appeals for a group …
The job of being a principal is a tough one, to be sure. The administration at John F. Kennedy High School have done a remarkable job over the years. The successes of students at the school are to be lauded by all. This year's valedictorian at the University of Guam, Seanne Clemente, was also valedictorian at JFK High four years ago. He's grown, with the help of his school and his parents, into a young adult who seems more than ready to tackle the next stage in life.
One of the things that makes JFK High successful is the required parent participation. The school emphasizes the need for parents to participate in their child's education. Instead of allowing parents to abdicate their responsibilities in their children's education – which many parents are tempted to do in the face of busy, modern 21st century living – the school has restored the triad between home, student and school required in a child's proper education and upbringing.
Here's where we get to the "however."
Last week, a group of students participated in a "senior skip-out." Did they break a rule? Yes. Many participated in the skip-out with their parents' full knowledge of what they were doing and where. Additionally, the students had completed all of their academic requirements – from tests to projects and homework. Nothing remained for them to do. In fact, that week included on-campus activities for seniors that would have taken most of them out of class.
The senior-skip out is a tradition that goes back many years. Most of the people reading this column either participated in it themselves, or had children and perhaps even grandchildren who participated. Hopefully, when you did it or when your children did it, you were aware of the when and where.
Considering that this is a tradition, school officials should have anticipated that some students would have considered a senior skip-out day and warned them that the harshest penalties would be administered if they were caught.
The students and parents who have spoken to The Guam Daily Post said there were no warnings from administrators that participating in this annual tradition was going to result in such a harsh punishment as suspension and the added punishment of being kicked out of the National Honor Society, and possibly the student body and class council. That's a big deal, because these organizations require much of the students and their parents.
Additionally, this is the first offense for most of these students. They aren't habitual truants. Perhaps a little understanding is needed. While many of these students have accomplished so much in athletics, school activities and academics under a rigorous curriculum, they are, underneath it all, still kids.
Many of those who have spoken to the Post are worried that this will actually impact college scholarships – some of which they've already secured.
Some of those students are speaking out, questioning the harshness of the disciplinary action meted out. They have scheduled meetings with the school and possibly Guam Department of Education officials. We hope calmness and understanding prevail.
If there's one thing the administrators at John F. Kennedy High School should be extremely proud of is that they have helped educate and raise a class of students who dare to dream and, more importantly, act on those dreams without letting anyone stand in their way.