Apology follows a personal foul

Apology follows a personal foul

There are 1 comment on the Albany Times Union story from Oct 15, 2013, titled Apology follows a personal foul. In it, Albany Times Union reports that:

Sam Bartlett, a senior at Burnt Hills High School, is a member of the school's football team and president of the Student Government Organization.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Albany Times Union.

Peter Petroski

Newtown Square, PA

#1 Oct 17, 2013
Dear BH-BL Students of the Classes 2013, 2014 and 2015,

I am a BH-BL Class of 1966 graduate.
It was with great sorrow that I read of last Saturday’s taunting incident at the football game with Amsterdam. I live in California - even here on the West Coast it got wide coverage.

I’m sure that your administration, teachers, parents, and other adult leaders have been talking with (and at) you about it.

You and I are separated by 5 decades in age and several thousand miles in geography, but I’d like to speak to you as a fellow BH-BL student. I’ve never been a teacher or a school administrator, so I can only guess at their roles…

Back in the day, we had a student in our class who was not considered to be the prettiest and certainly wasn’t the most popular. To be honest, we did things to her that bordered on bullying.

Like the ones of you who led the taunting, some of us were immature enough to not consider the consequences of our actions. Or, maybe we thought that we could build ourselves up by stepping on someone else.
Like the ones of you who followed the taunters, some of us simply wanted to go along with the crowd.
Like the ones of you who looked on disapprovingly but did nothing, some of us were too afraid to buck the tide in our peer group lest we be considered weak and become unpopular ourselves.

In our gym program, we had a unit of dancing during the winter. This meant that the wall between the girl’s and boy’s sides of the gym was folded back and we were taught square and round dancing. As boys, we would do anything we could to keep from being paired up with this unpopular girl- heaven forbid that we would actually have to touch her. Some girls would giggle their encouragement.
Like you, we got called out for our actions. The gym teachers angrily lectured us on respect.
I don’t know if we all listened and understood, but our behavior did get toned down.

This was 50 years ago- many of your current teachers probably weren’t even born yet.

Flash forward to last month when we got together for a reunion.
We had a good time remembering all the fun we had at BH-BL and reveled in how each of our lives played out. Frankly, we were glad to see each other- we had been separated by too many miles and years.

Unfortunately, not all of us are still alive. So, at the end of our gathering, we pulled out several dozen balloons with the name of each departed student tied to them. That unpopular girl’s name was on one of them.

The balloons were released and we solemnly watched them ascend in our rite of acknowledging those who had passed.
Except for one. Bereft of any majesty, it scraped along the muddy ground all by its lonely self.

A collective gasp escaped us when we all saw the name on it.

“Even in death we mock her” was one of the sad cries.

None of us remembered the football scores. BUT we all remembered how we treated this poor girl: it was seared into our collective souls.
It was a moment that no gym teacher could teach us or warn us about!

Finally someone was brave enough to retrieve the dashed balloon.

I’d like to think that it was our healing spirit that finally gave the balloon the lift to go airborne and join our other departed students; although I’m sure that your physics teachers would mark this answer as incorrect…

So cheers to those of you who tried to squelch the taunting cries last Saturday.
Cheers to the team for their victory-
Cheers for all your achievements and hopes for more in the future
And may you engage in a life to be well lived.

I’m sure that many conversations have been held about last Saturday.
We adults tend to speak at you, but I hope that you have been having many conversations amongst yourselves.

And maybe you’ve been brave enough to engage in conversations with your peers in other schools, especially Amsterdam.

But the most important conversation you can have is with yourself.

And I hope that you don’t wait 50 years to have it.

Go-ooo Spartans !

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