Imagine. You're a 17-year-old student artist. You're nearing the end of your High School career. You've been asked to design and paint a mural on a wall inside your beloved Alma Mater.
Wow! A mural. Painted by me! “See”, I can say to my kids years later, “there in the lower corner is MY signature!”
Who wouldn't love to be in that position?
17-year-old Liz Bierendy found herself living that dream. Then it was snatched away.
Ms. Bierendy imagined a mural that depicted the life of a man. A man who started, on the left end of the artwork, as a small boy. She then took him successively through life as a youngster, a pre-teen with a guitar, to graduation. Cap and gown and all. Her design moved to the final scene to show the young man, his wife, and their young boy. The rather busy background includes a wedding band and engagement ring interlocked above the couple's heads. She even included the family cat curled contentedly at their feet.
Now that's a sweet image, right?
Nope. Too sweet. Bring in the censoring committee.
That image lasted long enough to be “...deemed inappropriate and painted over because it depicted a man holding the hand of a woman and child”.
The story continues “some of the members of the Pilgrim High School community suggested that the depiction of a young man’s development from boyhood through adulthood as displayed may not represent the life experiences of many of the students at Pilgrim High School.”
As displayed? May not represent?
No. Can't have one student think himself different from all the others. That's not at all like the real world.
Can't hurt the feelings of some kid with no father. Or mother. He's never even seen a family with two parents. Or maybe it was the cat. She has a dog, but always wanted a cat. Kid's who have never seen a typical family because their family can't afford a TV? A kid who wants soccer shoes because the kid on the wall has soccer shoes?
You tell me. I'm lost.
Thankfully Warwick School Superintendent Peter Horoschak has better sense. Or maybe not. He had to actually consult with other administrators before reaching the decision that would have been obvious to Larry, Moe or even Curley. (I know that's not the order typically used for the three Stooges. Larry was actually the smart one. He knew that by pretending to be in the center he would never have to make a decision. Kinda like our Mr. Horoschak here.) He
asked the unnamed assistant principal to meet with the student again and discuss her views on the proposed changes to the mural.
Proposed changes? It had already been painted over. Weasel.
Liz showed she was the most mature person in this fiasco. She told the assistant principal she “preferred the original idea” but “would take the weekend to think about any changes”.
Weekend over, she stuck with the original idea. Kids, there's your mom's signature in the corner. Hurrah for Liz.
In a really
weaselly move, “Horoschak
asked that Bierendy’s ideas be respected and 'that she be allowed to finish the mural as she visualized it'.” No hurrahs for Horoschak.
Now, lest you think I made all this up, (as if I'm really that imaginative), here's the link.
Also note. While Virginia school boards can be silly sometimes, this ain't one of 'em. This story comes out of Rhode Island.