Why we fight

8 Dec

I introduced myself to my AP Literature teacher on the second day of school as a way to warn her: “Hi, I’m Meghan Morris from third period, and I’m the co-editor-in-chief of The Spoke.” I had to tell her upfront what topped my priority list this year, and it did not include “Hamlet” or “Jane Eyre.”

But the instant I mentioned The Spoke, something incredible happened. My seventy-something teacher, normally prone to to waxing poetic about the smell of classic literature, began to tear up during my brief introduction.

As she shook my hand, and, after a few minutes, finally let it go, she started to talk about her fascination with what she called “the one real thing left at Conestoga High School.” She described how, after thirty years, she still loved to watch Distribution Days, when our publication is distributed in the hallway. Students literally race each other to the stacks of papers at the end of the halls, and almost everyone in free period has a copy open.

But what sets The Spoke apart from, say, the yearly yearbook distribution? And what made it so important that my former editors fought to save it from censorship a year ago?

My Lit teacher called it Spoke magic. A magic that unites the school, a place where state championship soccer fan buses are canceled due to lack of interest and the Student Council president nearly begs students to go to the Homecoming pep rally.

A quick glance around the cafeteria, where students sit much like the seating chart in “Mean Girls” shows the Spoke magic of Distribution Day. Though students may make fun of our cover art, or declare death to our photographer for an emotional back photo of a boys’ soccer loss, nearly every kid–jock, geek, cheerleader, band kid, insert-high school-stereotype-here, is looking at the same 24 pages as the 2,000 others in the school.

That means we have a power, and thus a responsibility, to reach kids in a way that parents and educators cannot. When a Spoke survey reveals that 22 percent of our students have been cyberbullied and 64 percent think Formspring encourages it, though most teachers have never heard of Formspring, there is an opportunity to educate. And when there are a group of students who dumpster dive for library books, there is an opportunity to entertain…with consultation from the SPLC about the legality of dumpster diving, of course.

But what happens when our, and perhaps your, unique opportunity is threatened–by school administrators’ censorship, or even self-censorship? It’s up to you to fight back.

This blog offers you a good start: you can find an overview about taking on censorship in the Editor’s Emergency Kit and learn more about each of the 45words Student Partners. We’re here to help you, no matter how difficult your situation. E-mail me at meg.morris3@gmail.com, like 45words on Facebook, follow us on Twitter–whatever will help you.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.