Courting Change

miranda davis

Traditions are important to the high school experience. Yet every once in a while a tradition, even one as vital to high school as Homecoming, needs some alterations. During this year’s Homecoming nominations, some students sought to change the tradition and expand the ballot.

“Kids in special education, with lower IQ’s were not allowed to be on the ballot, senior Aly Frydman said. We wanted to change that so that if the senior class wanted them to be on [the ballot] they could be.”

“I felt that there shouldn’t be discrimination on the homecoming ballot, and that all names should be on it, regardless [of education level],” senior Audrey Hughes said.

Seniors Aly Frydman, Bailey Knowlton and Audrey Hughes led the way to change the ballot when they discovered a close friends of theirs, Owen Pharris, a student in special education classes, was not included. They were outraged.

“I met Owen my sophomore year and last year [Audrey and I] took him to Winter Formal. Frydman said. “He’s one of the nicest kids I’ve met; if anyone deserves to be a Homecoming candidate, it’s him. Owen is the light of my life, he is just the greatest kid, and when I saw that his name was not on [the ballot] I was furious.”

The trio of seniors talked to the Student Council sponsor and to vice principal Lisa Boyd who was running the voting. She did not know why the special education students were left off the ballot, and she did not know how to help in any way. Boyd declined to comment for this story.

Wanting Answers, they made petitions and circulated them throughout the school until the end of the day on Friday, September 3. Over 800 signatures were collected from like-minded students. Once they had the signatures, Frydman, Knowlton and Hughes took the petition and their concerns to Principal Ed West, who agreed with the girls, and put the changes in motion.

“I agreed with [the girls],”West said. “A re-vote that included all eligible students seemed not only necessary, but a natural extension of what we are striving to become as a united student body.”

The following Wednesday a re-vote was held, this time with the full ballot.

Some students have been wondering why the special education students were not allowed on the ballot in the first place. While these girls showed great compassion and understanding to those in special education, not every student does. One of the reasons they were left off the ballot in the past was to protect them from cruelty by general education students. Administrators were worried special education kids might be nominated as a joke or a mean-spirited prank.

Many people believe that the senior class shown greater maturity and tolerance. They hope that this tradition is one that the student body will sustain.

“It was for all the kids, for all of them to come in future years, those who are at all the sporting events, who support our school, they are awesome kids,” Frydman said. “They should have the same opportunities as the rest of us.”