Dance, kudos and principals' speech

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Recently Wendy and I went to the Spring to Dance Festival in St. Louis.

Thirty dance companies from the Midwest, Chicago, Nashville, Cleveland, New York, Kansas City and Cape Girardeau were on the program.

Twelve additional dance groups performed in a special lobby stage during the event at the Touhill Center at the University of Missouri, St. Louis.

I was proud that this highly selective dance program selected the pH exchange Dance Theater group from Cape to perform in the 300-seat Lee Theater.

Artistic directors Philip Edgecombe and Hilary Peterson (SEMO River Campus dance instructors) founded this company in 2009. The company aims to promote contemporary dance in the Southeast Missouri region through outreach education as well as the creation and performance of thought-provoking new work.

Also kudos to local dentist Ed Noffel who recently celebrated his 50th anniversary of practicing dentistry (and wine tasting) in Cape. Still drilling and filling.

And new Missouri sports hall of famer Jess Bolen has the Cape Capahas off to a good start in this his 44th consecutive year as their manager.

Investors, bankers, lawyers, and others are still untangling the mess created in the $2 trillion secondary market generated during the worst recent housing boom.

According to Kiplinger, Fannie, Freddie and the Federal Housing Administration still back 90 percent of new mortgages today.

The "Obama Health Care Plan" has the potential to bankrupt our country's economic status. It is unbelievably hard to understand its cost and effect.

It will be a major issue in the 2012 elections and, as I learned at a recent information meeting, health reform opponents won't be able to repeal or "defund" it before 2013. They lack the votes in the Senate, and the President would veto any such legislation.

Opponents' best hope to stop or slow down the staggered implementation lies with the Supreme Court, which will be the final judge of the constitutionality of the mandate for all to buy health insurance.

But it will be hard to put the "toothpaste back into the tube" as current phased in steps are being implemented.

The following is a piece authored by talk show host Dennis Prager, a staple of Southern California talk radio for more than 20 years. His column, "A Speech Every American High School Principal Should Give," was originally published July 13, and shortly thereafter emailed copies began circulating omitting Prager as the author and attributing the speech to various school principals across the country. Prager's column "A Speech Every American High School Principal Should Give" deserves reading and crediting the correct author.

"To the students and faculty of our high school: I am your new principal, and honored to be so.

"There is no greater calling than to teach young people. I would like to apprise you of some important changes coming to our school. I am making these changes because I am convinced that most of the ideas that have dominated public education in America have worked against you, against your teachers, against your parents, and against our country.

"Therefore: First, this school will no longer honor race or ethnicity. I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white. I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships. The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity, your character, your scholarship, your humanity. And the only national identity this school will care about is American. This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to make better Americans.

"If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial or religious identity through your school, you will have to go elsewhere. We will end all ethnicity-, race- and non-American-nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America, one of its three central values -- E Pluribus Unum 'from the many, one.'

"And this school will be guided by America's values. That includes all after-school clubs. I will not authorize clubs that divide students based on any identities. This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation or whatever else may become in vogue in a society divided by political correctness. Your clubs will be based on interests and passions -- not blood, ethnic, racial or other physically defined ties. Those clubs just cultivate narcissism -- an unhealthy preoccupation with the self, while the purpose of education is to get you to think beyond yourself. So, we will have clubs that transport you to the wonders and glories of art, music, astronomy, languages you do not already speak, math carpentry and more. If the only extracurricular activities you can imagine being interested in are those based on ethnic or racial or sexual identity, that means that little outside of yourself really interests you.

"Second, I am not interested in whether or not English is your native language. My only interest in terms of language is that you leave this school speaking and writing English as fluently as possible. The English language has united America's citizens for more than 200 years, and it will unite us at this school. It is one of the indispensable reasons this country of immigrants has always come to be one country. And if you leave this school without excellent English-language skills, I will have been remiss in my duty to ensure that you are prepared to compete successfully in the American job market. We will learn other languages here -- it is deplorable that most Americans only speak English. But if you want classes taught in your native language rather than in English, this is not your school.

"Third, because I regard learning as a sacred endeavor, everything in this school will reflect learning's elevated status. This means, among other things, that you and your teachers will dress accordingly. Many people in our society dress more formally for a meal at a nice restaurant than they do for church or school. Those people have their priorities backwards.

"Therefore, there will be a formal dress code at this school.

"Fourth, no obscene language will be tolerated anywhere on this school's property -- whether in class, in the hallways or at athletic events. If you can't speak without using the 'F-word,' you can't speak. By obscene language I mean the words banned by the Federal Communications Commission plus epithets such as the 'N-word,' even when used by one black student to address another, or "bitch," even when addressed by a girl to a girlfriend.

"It is my intent that by the time you leave this school, you will be among the few of your age to distinguish instinctively between the elevated and the degraded, the holy and the obscene.

"Fifth, we will end all self-esteem programs. In this school, self-esteem will be attained in only one way -- the way people attained it until the state of California decided otherwise a generation ago -- by earning it. One immediate consequence of this is there will be only one class valedictorian, not eight.

"Sixth, and last, I am reorienting the school toward academics and away from politics and propaganda. No more time will be devoted to scaring you about smoking and caffeine, or terrifying you about sexual harassment or global warming. No more semesters will be devoted to condom-wearing and teaching you to regard sexual relations as only or primarily a health issue.

"There will be no more attempts to convince you that you are a victim because you are not white, or not male, or not heterosexual, or not Christian. We will have failed, if any one of you graduates from this school and does not consider himself or herself inordinately lucky -- to be alive and to be an American.

"Now, please stand and join me in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. ... As many of you do not know the words, your teachers will hand them out to you."

-- Dennis Prager, Radio Talk Show Host, Southern California

Gary Rust is the chairman of Rust Communications.

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