By Gordon Anderson | email@example.com
When the students at SanLee Middle School spoke up and said they wanted a drama club and to start putting on stage productions, the administration listened.
“We’re very student-driven here,” said SanLee Principal Natalie Kelly. “We teach our children to advocate for themselves, and what they said they wanted was a drama club, they wanted to do a play.”
So, working with a drama instructor, Kelly and the administration gauged interest school-wide and found more than 100 students who wanted to participate. It wasn’t long before the club landed on “Almost, Maine,” a 2004 production written by playwright John Cariani which explores themes of love through nine vignettes containing two characters each. Until this week, auditions were scheduled for February 7 and 8, with performances on the calendar in early May.
The auditions and the performances will go on. But due to some backlash on social media, including from one member of the Lee County Board of Education, the play at SanLee won’t be “Almost, Maine.” Instead, the students will learn and perform Linday’s Price’s “Oddball,” which is described as “a vignette play that embraces the odd. Odd jobs, odd socks, odd one out, odd reactions and odd boyfriends.”
“I was made aware of some social media conversations about the performance selection. The version (of “Almost, Maine”) I reviewed was a middle school version that was adjusted to be age appropriate, and I didn’t see any problems with the content” she said. “With that being said, I didn’t want anything to overshadow our kids or to take anything away from what they’re doing, so I made the decision to to select another play. There just doesn’t need to be any negativity around this.”
Republican school board Member Chris Gaster complained Tuesday in a Facebook post that the play included “sexual content” and that “individuals of the same sex admire and kiss each other” in the show.
Also, a post about the matter in the closed “Ladies of Sanford” Facebook group on Tuesday questioning the appropriateness generated more than 80 comments over two days.
“Almost, Maine” has come under fire elsewhere, largely over one of its vignettes titled “They Fell.” The original version of that script focuses on two friends of the same sex who realize their romantic feelings for one another (there are different versions for men and women). The script does not, however, call for the characters to kiss, and the characters do not kiss in YouTube videos of performances of the scene:
The script for “Almost, Maine: The Middle School Edition,” is rewritten to make the characters opposite sex. There is no kiss in that version of the script either.
Gaster’s post about the matter came around 1 p.m. Tuesday, days after SanLee announced the production in a now deleted Facebook post. Around 5:30 p.m. the same day, SanLee announced on Facebook that it would instead stage “Oddball.”
The Rant reached out to Gaster by email to ask if he’s read the script for “Almost, Maine,” and if he was aware that SanLee’s proposed performance would be based on the script’s Middle School Edition. We’ll update this story with any response we receive.
What a surprise, Chris Gaster making a mountain out of a nonexistent molehill because he didn’t do research. Can’t wait for more insightful and thoughtful commentary from Mr. Gaster as his tenure continues.
Next thing you know they will want to take the incest out of the bible. Poor Noah.
The “Ladies of Sanford” Facebook group is everything wrong with Facebook in a nutshell. What a toxic stew of gossip and garbage that place is.
What sticks out to me in this article is there is no vetting process in the decisions being made at the school level. There is critical information missing or at least I don’t see it in this article. The middle school age appropriate version of this play may be perfectly fine, it may not, I see nothing showing the script that would have been used to be able to measure. This particular issue brings to light what I think is an administrative shortfall that can easily be resolved and mitigate future issues. Based on this article it appears there is no formal administrative vetting and approval process by school administrators or Board of Education officials. This is not an indictment of the Drama Club teacher. The Teacher can’t be held responsible if there is no process in place to approve material or activities the students will be participating in. The Teacher will make decisions based on their own standards. This leaves a great amount of latitude for a teacher to decide what is or is not appropriate activities in school sponsored clubs and organizations. The simple answer is, implement policy that outlines a vetting and approval process that requires ALL school and district clubs, organizations, or any activity that is sponsored by the individual school or the district to be vetted and approved by the appropriate administrative level prior to the activity being executed. This removes the liability from the Teacher or Teachers that are organizing the activities and removes any ambiguity about what is acceptable activities or information that the students are being asked to do. IMHO, it is completely inappropriate and unprofessional for an official in the county School Administrative system to gaslight and blow up social media creating a county wide knee jerk reaction that places our schools and individual teachers in a false light and further causes division between the educators and the parents as well as creates a hostile work environment for the Teachers because it causes them to lose trust in the system. If I was the BOE member, I would have researched this issue extensively and identified what the approval process, if any, was used to approve this play. All of this would have been done at the lowest level necessary to make any changes that may be necessary while also preserving the trust of the citizens of Lee County that our schools are working for the best of the students and also maintaining the trust and respect of the teachers to know that I am not in the BOE to discredit them, I am here to work with them to meet their objectives, provide them with any resources they may need, while also seeking and giving guidance. In the absence of leadership, (Standards, policies, processes), the individual will act independently because they have not been given any leadership to know the parameters in which they should move forward with their assigned mission. We need to provide real leadership to our teachers and school level administrators to avoid any issues like this. Be a problem solver not a problem creator. That is what leaders do.
Dale, the article contains links to both the original and middle school versions of the script.
Thank you. For me the play really isn’t the issue. The vetting and approval process for student activities is the issue. Is there processes for approval? If so, were they adhered to? If not, they need to be implemented. Secondly, the course of action the BOE member chose to address the issue IMHO was inappropriate and damaging to the peoples trust in our education system, also damaging to the Teachers confidence in the school system “Leadership”. There are better ways to address issues or potential issues and implement a fix. Gaslighting on social media isn’t it. There is a difference between being part of the solution or being part of the problem. The BOE member chose to be part of the problem. In gaslighting the issue he exposed himself on blast that he lacks any sense of decorum and ability to critically analyze a situation to provide solutions while maintaining the respect of those he is responsible for and his credibility to those he answers to.
Dale, this is the same guy who went on Facebook to say he “heard” there were litter boxes for kids to use at the schools which was a lie. All he had to do was call the school and ask and he would have found out the truth but he chose to get people spun up on social media over something that was not true. He needs to be worried about all the job vacancies for the schools. I do not remember there being so many. You should take a look.
The “Bearded Wonder” strikes again. I think he is the one we should keep an eye on.
anything touting same sex anything should be banned from the public eye….perverted unnatural sex acts needs to stay in hell where it originated. Leave the kids alone…..they are bombarded enough in society without it being pushed in the school in any given school sanctioned activity….
You suck. Just on a very deep level. You really really suck. My child deserves representation in school, in plays, in the world. Leave the kids alone is right. Leave them alone.
so pcfeeland sucks, because this person disagrees with your personal views on homosexuality? It offends you because your have a kid that is gay, and you don’t feel that they are being represented in society? Hate to break it to you, but your kid does have the right to be gay, does have the right to be happy, does have the right to live their life as they see fit without backlash. But they do not have the right to force their lifestyle upon others. They do not have the right to make others accept their lifestyle. They do not have the right to feel they must be represented in every single thing offered in society. And the fact that you automatically went to trying to insult someone with an opposing viewpoint on homosexuality is the very reason problems exist. You are forcing someone to accept something they don’t agree with and find personally wrong. That’s them, they have that right. And you must accept it like it or not. At no time did they say your kid does not have the right to be gay. At no time did they say your kid was wrong for their choice of lifestyle. The only thing the person said was it should not be on public display in a school and accepted as the norm. No matter how hard you try, most people in society do not accept the gay lifestyle they tolerate it. It has been forced as mainstream because of a social stigma of people like you, when confronted by someone with an opposing viewpoint, you automatically gets defensive, and thinks everything revolves around them or you or your kid are being singled out. If you want a play put on specifically for your gay son or daughter, then meet with the school board, propose your idea for a seperate play and fund it yourself. See how many people show up to support that lifestyle to be put on display, or see how many people don’t support it and merely tolerate it. EIther way, you will quickly find out that not everything is about you or your sons/daughters chosen lifestyle.
I’m gay; have been for most of the 60+ years on this planet. Have 4 adult children (it happens), one with a dual doctorate in Psychology & Pediatrics. Two more with MBA’s in Business & Technology. They are all thriving! What’s the fuss? We’re here; get used to it wthout all the bible thumping broo-ha. ~Most~ ppl I know don’t believe much of that BS anymore anyway. JMHO.
Gene, people are sick and tired of being told they must accept one thing but are condemned for their beliefs. Example, if your a Christian and were raised to try and follow your beliefs to the best of your ability and offer your opinion on something, you are automatically a bible-thumper, a Jesus freak, a homophobe, or even called a racist now because you morally object to something. That seems to be perfectly acceptable to do and is just a wrong as someone else condemning the other for being gay. Everyone knows gay people exist, so what. Straight people exist to and have a right to their opinion as well. Let me ask you this. When you were growing up, was the very first thing you went to as a defense mechanism for your actions was the “because I’m gay defense? ” You didn’t get the job you wanted because you were gay? You didn’t get the house you wanted because you were gay? That sort of thing. I have heard that so many times before (and I’m close to your age as well) that I always found it disgusting to be used. They never think they didn’t get the job because they were not as qualified as they thought, or their finances weren’t as great as they thought, no the first thing is always “because I’m gay” excuse, and yes it is an excuse. You still have people who believe that “BS” as you put it still, but still tolerate other chosen lifestyles. They are just sick and tired of being told that is the new normal and they have to accept it when in fact they do not, and should not be forced to. Yes, gays exist everyone is aware of it. Gays have the right to live however they choose to. But so do others who don’t agree with how they live. That’s all I’m saying, no disrespect intended.
HBK you’re a hypocrite. You go on about gay rights and how gays can do this and that but then basically say that they shouldn’t been seen or accepted in our society. Gay is okay with me! ….but only if I never see it! I could easily say that I tolerate Christians. You can have your churches and do your Christian thing at home but you better not come to my door shoving that crap down my throat or do ANYTHING Christian in public or create any Christian media like movies or music. Be Christian on your own time and keep it to yourself and our society will be so much better for it. See how that sounds and comes off? Hint: You sound like something that starts with an A and ends with hole. Gays should be seen and heard in our society. If you don’t like it then don’t go or walk out if something offends you. No one forces me to go to church.
Fine. Don’t accept gays. However, your side not only doesn’t accept gays, it attacks them. Conversion therapy. Bringing guns to intimidate at drag shows. Attacking gay marriage. Literally and physically attacking gays. For F**ks sakes! We can’t even have an altered play with gay elements from the original without someone complaining and getting it canned. But gays are a-okay in our society!
Gays are discriminated against and you want to minimize that. They should just get over it because clearly you are such a “tolerate” person of the gays. Thank you for your service! Everyone knows gays are there and treat them fairly. Of course they do! Why are we still even having this discussion!?!? It reminds me of this other discussion about African Americans in this country that I have heard a million times by your so called “tolerate” side. Something about how they are all fine and dandy… how they should just get over something that happened a long time ago… quit using some kind of card… how they are treated fairly and stop using excuses… but for the life of me I just can’t seem to remember the finer details. COME ON!!! We all see through your “middle of the road” I’m so reasonable BS dog whistles. Tell me you’re a homophobe without telling me you’re a homophobe!
Fine. You want to talk about stereotypical tropes. Here we go! It must be SO hard being a Christian in this country. Poor baby! You have it so hard! It must be so difficult to be grouped into the hateful bible thumping jerks of this world. O God! Here come the Christians again with their racist, xenophobic, transphobia, and homophobic dog whistles complaining about EVERYTHING then trying to make it sound reasonable… We all have opinions, how Christians are treated so horribly, and blah blah blah! Then you wonder why church numbers continue to decline….
No disrespect but you suck! See how that works too. You can’t say anything you want and just add no disrespect to absolve you of every crap opinion you have. Final hint: Telling someone that their child should not even be acknowledged because they are gay and basically to just get over it and live their life because you are a little sensitive crybaby is NOT being “tolerate”!
Good job Chris, spot on comment pcfreeland 👍🏻
PB, you have got some serious mental issues you need to deal with but that’s a discussion for a later time. First off, I never said gays should not be seen in public. I said they do not and should not be forcing their lifestyle (basically their choice to be gay) to be socially accepted. Being gay does not have to be included into every single aspect of life and at every single event in the world. They’re gay, we get it, we tolerate it, we don’t have to accept it.
Secondly. Conversion therapy does not happen, it is not a real form of therapy. It is an excuse performed by “professionals” (and those quotation marks means I’m being sarcastic by the way) who actually believe they can change a person’s personal preference to what they are attracted to physically, emotionally, and sexually. There is no science facts backing that kind of “therapy”, and I never claimed there was, so try to stay on topic if at all possible.
I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but gays are not discriminated against today. Maybe back in the 70s and 80s, but not today. You can try and play that card if you want, but won’t even entertain the discussion here because you have no proof and are just grabbing at a false narrative to deflect the conversation. Nice try though
I’m “middle of the road” huh? HAHAHA that’s cute. I’m so Conservative that it’s not even funny. I TOLERATE people in society today because they all like to play victim at every single corner in life, and blame it on senseless accusations that don’t exist, but they NEED something to grab onto to make their argument so what’s their go to…..DISCRIMINATION. Please get over yourselves.
And yes, you are correct. It is hard to be Christian in today’s society, thank you for acknowledging that point.
I can and will say anything I want, the same as you obviously can and do, so have no idea why you cannot act like an adult instead of a child that feels they need representation in everything.
And to address your final HINT, I don’t get disrespected, ever. I don’t care what people’s opinion of me are, is, or will be. I TOLERATE people and their point of views even if I don’t agree with them, it’s called being an adult and not taking things personally, as you obviously do, or feel the need to add your opinion into conversations that were not directed toward you. You can call me a crybaby all you want, but the FACT (very important word here), the FACT is, just because a person is gay, queer, homosexual, transgender, a toaster, a cat, a tree, a non-gender binary person, (hopefully you get the point) does not change the fact that they do have a right to live as they choose, but it does not have to be represented in every single thing in this world.
Thank you for your “enlightening” insights and opinions. Medications and shock therapy treatments will begin promptly at 8 pm so make sure you don’t miss the appointment cause you obviously need them….no disrespect!
This issue is just one of many that plagues our public schools across the nation. I agree with Mr. Roberts on why the Board of Education did not approve/reject this play before it ever made it into the schools.
Obviously controversial from all the rants. Also, highly politicized.
But teachers just want to be able to teach and not being allowed to do so. Ever wonder why there are 5000 teacher openings just in the state of NC? Those teachers that can are retiring.
The other teachers are going to Charter and Private schools. These are good teachers that are needed in the public schools. Also leaving are some administrators.
School superintendents need to get a handle on this. Because while all this squabbling is going on the students are suffering. Lee County is small and yet we have two significant private schools and I think five charter/magnate schools that are growing to meet demand.
To end, I am all for vouchers to help give an option to those that want to learn.