By Avery Friedt
Every morning, right when second block starts, virtually every classroom tunes in to the morning announcements. What did we see Tuesday morning? Senior Drew Stephens making a public apology for his actions at the girls’ basketball game Monday night. While Drew’s apology was completely voluntary, done because he felt the people he offended deserved it, some viewed the broadcasting of such a personal subject as going too far, even if it was Drew’s choice. The courage it takes to get in front of everyone and admit a fault is something some people didn’t understand. They viewed it as humiliating. There’s a reason they jumped to this conclusion though. We’ve been experiencing public humiliation as a type of discipline for our entire lives, we just never realized it.
Go back to a classroom in the early 1900’s. Trouble makers would be stood on a stool in front of the class, with a hat reading “Dunce” perched on their head. We’ve come a long way from those days of crushing children’s self-esteem in front of their peers; however, more innocent forms of public humiliation are common today. The Internet is packed with pictures of babies and dogs posing with signs “confessing” their guilt, usually for the mess they’re seated next to. Most of us find these funny because no one is getting hurt by them. When a child reaches a certain age though, the point of these turns from humor to punishment or correction.
We all know the feeling of embarrassment we felt when our moms put us in our place at the grocery store when we threw a tantrum, or when our teacher made us stand against the wall at recess for breaking a rule. Both are forms of public embarrassment used to correct a behavior, and they were lessons most of us didn’t forget. Never again would we cry over a candy bar in the checkout aisle, or push Josh down on the playground, for fear of the punishment that our peers would see us receive. While this was a major concern when we were younger, we eventually outgrew it. We would brush off the punishment, and instead of getting embarrassed, we’d try to use it to look cool in front of our friends. That’s about the time this form of correction stopped, and we moved on to more serious punishments, such as being grounded.
As teenagers we’ve now learned to behave ourselves without the threat of public punishment looming over us. We’ve grown as people, and now we govern ourselves with our own personal sense of right and wrong. Sometimes we may slip up, but the key is to learn from our mistakes and try to fix what we mess up. That’s what Drew was doing on the announcements.
While at first some thought the apology was a forced punishment used to humiliate a student into behaving, it was actually voluntary, a heartfelt plea from Stephens for forgiveness. “I just wanted to get people involved. No one takes girls’ basketball seriously, even though the girls are always out supporting other sports. So when I saw the other group of students . . . not getting involved, I got mad. I yelled things I shouldn’t have, and eventually got kicked out. I take pride in leading the student section and being a good role model. My actions that night didn’t show that. While the apology was voluntary, had administration given me that as a punishment, I would have understood. If someone is comfortable making a scene in public, they should be comfortable apologizing in public. I acted in the manner I did because of how much school spirit I have at our events. I want the best of our school and student section, and I feel it’s important our teams have support. I deeply regret my actions and hope to set a better example in the future.”
I think I speak for all of Central when I say, we forgive you Drew.