We received this Message from Amanda and felt it should be open for discussion here in our community. We do understand the rules and policies are in place for a reason but not everyone fits into the same box. We believe if you work hard and improve on where you are falling short you should not be penalized for that. It sends the wrong message to our kids and ultimately they will just give up. We believe the school is doing their best but they may want to take a closer look at this and maybe update their policies online so everyone is on the same page. It does take more work but ultimately we as a community benefit from that hard work. Here’s Amanda’s Story.
Hello, my name is Amanda, I am a junior at Owatonna Senior High School. Recently, some of the upperclassmen were faced with a pretty sad decision. We were left to either spend Prom night at home or fight for it. Prom has been an American tradition for many, many years. It is often a dream for little girls up till the night of their first Prom. Unfortunately, just this year the high school enacted a policy where a certain amount of absences over the school year (not many) would result in the loss of Prom privileges.
I recently spoke with Mr. Miller the assistant principal at OHS and ask if there were any exceptions to this policy, like people with ailing family, whom they spent time at home taking care of. I asked about people who were struggling to get out of bed to come to school some days, kids who felt hopeless. I asked about kids with drug problems that skipped school often. What was common in these inquiries was that all the situations should still maintain good grades and were making an effort to improve their attendance. I myself was in a very bad place. I knew about the Prom policy, but it didn’t really matter to me when I was really depressed.
I had a GPA of 1.3 as high school was an uphill battle for me. I got sober this year and have passed all of my classes. I finished last semester with Cs and better. This semester my grades sit at all B’s and A’s. I have been waiting to go to Prom all my life, so I turned things around and my attendance got better in hopes of changing some of the administrations mind. The answer I got after several weeks of deliberation was simply NO.
The sad part is, some kids don’t even know they won’t be going to Prom and are just going to show up at the door and be turned away, heartbroken. I was hoping to gain some support from the community to find another way to encourage students to have such clean attendance. Not a lot of people took the policy seriously thinking that it would be like previous dances where they had a few detentions to make up and still got in. So many people aren’t going to be able to attend what we see as a reward for making it this far.
I was hoping to gain some community support in pushing to allow students to go to Prom regardless of their attendance. Since I am a small voice and I need many, I was also hoping I could get some help from Owatonna Web?
I have a 504 plan with the school to make it easier for me to come to school. It doesn’t always work. I have depression and anxiety all diagnosed, I see a therapist. I’ve been working so hard for this with admin expecting some sort of change. I only worked so hard to be rewarded for it and feel successful and it feels like a slap in the face. Like they don’t care who worked hard once they put their mind to it. It just means a lot to have a way to reach out to the community.
Her Mother had this to say
I think it is absolutely ridiculous and horrible to use Prom as a disciplinary tool!! Especially for my daughter who is currently on a 504 plan due to traumatic event that accrued last year. Considering everything she has been through, we are pleased with the way she has turned her grades around recently and how well she is doing. They KNOW what happened to her and her situation and yet they are still going to punish her with Prom. With all the kids committing suicide we need to build kids up NOT tear them down like this.
And her father had this to say about the situation
As Amanda’s Dad, It is public knowledge that I am most often on the side of “the authority” or “the establishment”. However, this is not one of times! The policy handbook online is over three years old! That is NOT a student not a parents fault!
Additionally less than two weeks ago I was in the principles office with Amanda when she was flat-out told that yes there are conditional situations and yes they have not held by the policy in past years and in fact allowed people to go even though according to policy they were not eligible! The principal himself made a note to contact other principles and administrators about this year’s decision.
Additionally, the school made the same announcement about homecoming this year but then did not enforce it. And allow those that should not have been eligible to infact go to homecoming. OHS has not only created a mess but also has set a precedent of these policies not meaning much.
And I would also like to just throw this out there, I am continually getting comments on report cards and whatnot, about missing assignments. However repeatedly when I investigate this I find that the incitements are in fact turned in and the teachers have simply not entered a great into an automated system. This continues for sometimes weeks on end. It we want to hold the children accountable for their attendance and we do not hold teachers accountable for following up on their work and getting everything entered in a timely manner???
I am not advocating for my daughter solely in this matter. I am advocating that the school has a history of not adhering to policies. Additionally, how do you take someone who has been through such tragic incidences as my daughter, or as she mentioned, someone who has had chronic illness and deny them their junior or senior prom?
She has overcome chemical use, insubordination to school officials which by their own comments has drastically done a 180° turn, and has put some of her tragedies behind her and been able to maintain an A and B average! Because of her depression, and PTSD, related to her tragedies, she is on a special 504 program as many students are to help them cope.
I would think that in this day and age with everything that Owatonna and the youth are currently experiencing and recovering from, the denying someone’s attendance at prom or homecoming could very easily create multiple people to spiral downhill. I am asking the public to chime in on this issue as well as I am asking of the administration to reevaluate.
I do in fact believe that we have to have rules in our society and they have to be enforced. However I don’t believe that OHS is going about it the right way in this particular circumstance.
We would like to know what you think about all this. Comment here and give us your feedback. Thank you.