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A Critique of Public Shaming in an Otherwise Inclusive Environment

Photo: amenclinicsphotos ac Source Licence

Photo: amenclinicsphotos ac Source Licence

Anna Fiscarelli-Mintz, Contributing Writer

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As the school mission statement goes, St. Andrews’s mission is “…to know and inspire each child in an inclusive community…”. So why, then, at 3:15 every day, do we hear an announcement reading out a list of names that invariably causes “oooohs” and a few students to turn a peculiar shade of pink? For all the talk about being “open” and “inclusive”, shouldn’t we, as a school, be well past such an exclusive practice as public shaming of our students? Now, I know the “oooohs” are usually just gentle ribbing and the pink blushes of those condemned to after-school study hall fade rapidly, but the principle of the matter remains. Teenagers feel enough pressure to fit in and feel valid in our identities, and this practice of calling out a few students in front of their peers and teachers isn’t exactly helping our self-esteem. Besides, for all any of us knows, those students could have just hit nasty traffic and been late to school a few times or forgotten their assignments at home once. These are understandable mistakes with no reflections on a student’s character. This is probably the point where one would say I’m taking this too seriously: it’s just a study hall after all, it’s not that big of a deal. And I agree, in the bigger picture, hearing one’s name over the P.A. system shouldn’t matter that much. But the little things we do say a lot about our character as a community. St. Andrews is, by and large, a very welcoming, inclusive place. I should know: as a new kid this year I was the beneficiary of its hospitality and am very grateful to have been met with such kindness. It’s because of this good character that it’s important not to undermine it with needless, backward practices like this one. For the sake of living up to our mission statement, please just email the kids who’ve been assigned after school study hall and leave public shaming to the Pilgrims in History classes where it belongs.

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The student news site of Saint Andrew's Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland