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Tim Myers: Saugus High and the culture wars

Myers' Musings

Posted: March 14, 2009 11:48 p.m.
Updated: March 14, 2009 11:09 p.m.
I personally know Bill Bolde. When ranking the principals of the six comprehensive high schools in the Hart district, I would place him just slightly below Dr. Paul Priesz of Valencia High School.

Bolde not only continued Saugus High School's excellence in academics and performing arts (I once attended a jazz band concert at SHS where the youngsters nearly blew off the roof), his team also brought the Saugus football Centurions, long the joke and the doormat of the Foothill League, to within a whisker of the CIF Championship two years running, with an impressive victory (and by impressive victory, I mean gang stomp) of the Hart Indians this past season.

I also think the men and women of the Armed Forces and their families deserve all the recognition they desire, particularly in the local community. I would vote in favor of a parade blocking off McBean Parkway once a week during the most traffic-heavy time if they so desired.

Their sacrifice in our national wars, without a draft, constitutes such an outsized burden they deserve nothing less.

So it surprised me to read the story in the local media outlets trumpeting "Saugus principal denies Marine right to wear uniform at graduation."

The thoughts that immediately came to mind? Bureaucratic over-sensitivity? An anti-military bias?

From the reporting, it certainly seemed the parent of the Marine in question felt this way, since she contacted the governor and Congressman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon when they did not receive an immediate positive response.

(An historic aside: Parents in the SCV keep the Congressman's local number on speed dial. In the past they requested federal intervention when the Hart Indian softball coach cut two players from the championship team and also in the infamous Hart Indian "tea bagging" incident.)

Certain local political operatives happily seemed willing to throw Bolde under the proverbial culture war bus, intimating an anti-military hive with its locus on Centurion Way that all faithful Republicans must rally to stamp out.

Now I feel upon reading more, including Bolde's explanation published in The Signal, the culture war skirmish (not a battle after all, because the Marine will in fact walk in the graduation in his Marine uniform) seems to always result from a misunderstanding that then accelerates to 90 mph, and people (and by "people" I mean elected officials and their factotums) just love to throw in their two cents.

Now some might think that Bolde should just immediately acquiesce in the request and that any hesitancy masks sinister motives. The truth of the matter?

Well, setting aside the fact this request comes in the midst of 100 discrete items on any given day requiring Bolde's attention, including some where a wrong move might result in the burning of the campus down to the foundation, anyone following graduations over the last 10 years in the SCV knows what the poor principal must always consider.

Elements of the graduating class seek the best way to bring in the absolute highest number of inflatable sex dolls to set free during the student speeches, and the administration must set up elaborate security to frustrate their aims.

For some reason that entirely escapes intellectual explanation, this inflatable sex dolls constitutes the highest form of humor in some 18-year-old minds.

Further, if students could alter their graduation attire, I shudder to think what atrocities to humanity and nature could ensue! And don't expect the parents and family to self-enforce decency. Remember, many parents think it perfectly reasonable to blow off air horns during the announcement of their child's name, of course drowning out the names of the two people before and after.

Therefore, all principals must carefully weigh any exceptions to the stated policy or the cats they must herd on a daily basis will suddenly run in every single direction.

Now it turns out Bolde went through a reasonable process, discussing the matter with his fellow principals, the school superintendent, and even personnel in the Marine Corps. All this while fielding calls from functionaries of the governor and

Congressman McKeon looking to start a Michelle Bachman-style investigation into un-American activities.

But luckily, Bolde moved systematically and did not freak out, and resolved the matter in a gracious and balanced way.

Maybe I should move Bolde into a tie with Priesz.

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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