School weighs in

Section: 
Letter

Dear Editor,

As Principal and Vice-Principal of Kincardine & District Secondary School, we would like to address the recent article published on June 7, 2017, by Josh Howald, “That Ain’t Classy.”  We feel a need to set the record straight. We will not be brief, as the tone and words of his article warrant a detailed response.

First of all, to begin reading an article by the name of “That Ain’t Classy” and then to see the phrase “people could use a refresher on how to conduct themselves in public” in the opening paragraphs of an article that discusses our local high school’s charitable efforts through Relay for Life is very upsetting to a great number of people. To then go on and print inaccuracies about the event is an insult to both our school and our community.

The KDSS Relay for Life was an event that took months of organization and planning.  Our committee of dedicated students and staff attended a training program in London, met weekly in second semester to plan the event, and worked tirelessly spreading the word and visiting local businesses for their involvement and support.  We organized an uplifting school assembly for early May to kick off the event and get teams signed up and out collecting. When students were asked to stand in the assembly to indicate if they, or someone they cared about, had ever been effected by cancer, pretty much everyone in the school was on their feet.  As usual, our amazing students and the community rose to the occasion, and exceeded even their own expectations in their dedication to the cause of cancer research.

On the day itself, students were here before 8 a.m. setting up at the Davidson Centre.  Volunteers from the RBC assisted with registration, local businesses donated snacks, and the Lion’s Club cooked up hot dogs to feed our hungry participants.  Our students showcased their talents as entertainment for the day, and close to 150 students took part.  Some young friends from Ecole Elgin Market joined us for some laps and handed in a bag of their donations, before joining us for the Luminary Ceremony.  The event was greatly supported by the community, and our students received many thanks of appreciation for their generosity of funds and spirit, as well as for their general deportment and hard work.

Speaking of the Luminary Ceremony, I would have encouraged Josh to have stayed for more than just a few minutes to fully understand the magnitude and context of what he was reporting on. A little bit more research and effort on his part would have resulted in a much more accurate and interesting article. However, the observations that led you to write that we had “poorly-mannered participants” are unfair and uncalled for.  The vice-principal attended this ceremony (which took longer than 5 minutes) and started with a short speech and moment of silence, followed by the public and students walking amongst the luminaries as one of our students sang quietly.  Yes, people did walk for a while and then slowly started to depart quietly. The point of Relay for Life is to walk for someone you love who cannot walk for him or herself.  Once many had departed, those who wanted to stay a while and quietly reflect or show respect were free to do so with some privacy.  All the luminaries were created by students as a way to remember those we’ve lost to cancer and have since been used to create a powerful display at the school.  In no way were any participants poorly-mannered or disrespectful and to imply otherwise is an insult to the event and our conduct. To also throw in “hey, at least they weren’t visibly intoxicated” is an unwarranted, thoughtless comment designed to purposely besmirch the reputation of Kincardine’s youth. A full third of the school’s students gave up much of their time to selflessly raise thousands of dollars to benefit, not themselves, but a cause greater than themselves. The media should be lauding their efforts and not pointlessly attacking them. The students you saw walking that day did so in honour of someone they knew or cared about battling cancer. To write them off as rude, uncaring or intoxicated is shameful and border-line libelous.

Finally, all of our participants cared.  Through the generous contributions of individuals, businesses, and volunteers the day exceeded all expectations.  The goal this year was $15,000.  Incredibly, KDSS raised $25,000.  Mr. Howald’s limited reporting efforts resulted on reporting a figure which was $20,000 off the mark.  Had he checked either the school website or FaceBook page, he would have been better informed, or even page 19 of his own newspaper which included some of the actual and factual figures.

In closing, Kincardine & District Secondary School is proud of Relay for Life.  Our students conducted themselves well and walked for those fighting or having fought cancer.  The community pulled through for us generously and we are extremely proud of our staff, students, community and results.

Contrary to Mr. Howald’s title for his article, all involved with the KDSS Relay for Life conducted themselves with class and have much to be proud of; we felt both honoured and blessed to have walked with them on that day, and every other.

Sincerely,

Mark Ozorio, Principal, and Suzanne Kennedy, Vice-Principal,

Kincardine & District Secondary School