I am writing this open letter as an appeal to authorities, both school and civic, to pause in any rush to judgment in the case of the senior students at the high school. I speak as a substitute high school math teacher and an information officer for the U. S. Naval Academy, whose job it is to assist in the selection of academy candidates.
I have been accorded the privilege of getting to know Payson High School's young men and women over the past seven years. In the main, I have been truly impressed with the level of academic achievement, athletic accomplishment (with part-time jobs on the side), and community involvement of our high school youth. If I can in any way act on their behalf as a mentor, life coach, or math teacher, my mission is fulfilled.
I ask only that those involved in adjudicating the fate of these senior pranksters look beyond their proximate misdeeds and focus on the totality of their four-year record of achievement and citizenship at PHS and the community in general. I am willing to bet that you will find the recent mischief as an isolated blip on the radar of real achievers.
It is important to keep in mind that we have much more at stake here than students marching with their classmates and possible loss of scholarships. Coming into play here are the years of quality parenting and the dedicated effort of many teachers that will have gone for naught with the suggested penalties. Don't erase all of this to set an example. The proposed punishment far exceeds the "crime" and would have life-long impact.
I am reminded of young eagles leaving the nest for their first flight-full of energy to do something great. These students are young eagles leaving the nest -- eager for a release from four years of hard work and dedication.
It's easy for adults in positions of authority to forget their own transgressions as seniors in high school. I have never forgotten my mischief as a senior. Looking back, I now see that time is just a building block to a lifetime of successful service and good citizenship. I learned from my missteps.
Let the young eagles "do time" by repairing any damage and perhaps performing a few days of community service by, say, picking up trash on Highway 87 along a two-mile stretch just south of town, under the guidance of ADOT -- but let them spread their wings and fly. You won't be disappointed.
Lawrence D. Farrington