Wednesday, September 26, 2012

UPDATED: Baccalaureate Co-Chair previews RHS PTSA Meeting

BREAKING NEWS:  I'm still waiting to hear more official results of the meeting, but I can report that a large majority vote was taken to keep the RHS-PTSA as the sponsor for Baccalaureate and to name it "Baccalaureate."  The RHS-PTSA board is yet to announce the location for Baccalaureate 2013.  Over 100 parents attended, including two State PTSA officials to help out with the voting process.  Conversations lasted for about an hour and a half before the votes were taken.  BY  9-27

Dear friends of Redmond High,

You may have heard by now that on Wednesday, September 26 at 7 pm in the RHS
PAC, the RHS PTSA is holding a special General Membership meeting to
determine the fate of Baccalaureate 2013.

As one of the co-chairs of Baccalaureate 2013, I wanted to give you a brief
preview of the issues at hand. A vocal portion of the PTSA Board of
Directors believes that Baccalaureate should be changed as follows:   READ MORE >>

1. Change the name: They contend that the name "Baccalaureate" is outdated,
and because it has a religious heritage (per Wikipedia, it originated at
Oxford in 1432), the name is offensive to some. They further contend that
the name is one of the main reasons the PTSA must continually educate each
Senior Class as to what Baccalaureate is. Last June, the program name was
changed to "Senior Reflections Program". I pointed out that Reflections
refers to the National PTA Arts competition, and new name sounds like
something for Seniors who participated in the Reflections contest.

2. The Venue must be public or non-religious: They contend that holding the
program in a religious facility has not been inviting and that it has
actively excluded people who are not comfortable entering a church. They
prefer using the RHS PAC, which seats 522. However, attendance at
Baccalaureates 2011 & 2012 exceeded 550. So in order to make the event more
welcoming to all and more inclusive to those offended by anything spiritual,
they want to hold the event in a venue that would have been too small for
Baccalaureates 2011 & 2012.

3. Remove all religious aspects from the program with the exception of
student performances. They contend that since the PTSA is not a faith-based
organization, that adult participants cannot be allowed to make any
religious references or prayers of any kind. They want to "highlight the
student performances and provide a meaningful secular program that all
members of our parent and student community would be comfortable attending."
I pointed out that not being faith-based does not mean being faith-less. The
National PTA Nonsectarian Policy does "acknowledge the importance of a
spiritual life in the development of children and youth," and further allows
for inspirational messages at PTA events so long as they are not sectarian.

I have challenged their reasoning for the proposed changes and even offered
alternative ideas. However, the PTSA Board of Directors intends to make a
motion on Wednesday to discontinue PTSA sponsorship of this program, which
in essence cancels Baccalaureate 2013.

I invite you to attend the meeting to hear the merits of both sides and to
cast an educated vote. You must be a current RHS PTSA member to vote. You do
not need to have a student at RHS to be a member of the RHS PTSA. If you
have not joined RHS PTSA this year, you can bring the membership form with
payment to RHS PAC by 6:45 pm to ensure your eligibility to vote.

If the General Membership does not approve the motion to discontinue PTSA
sponsorship, it remains a PTSA sponsored program. Then I hope the leadership
will listen to the General Membership and accept the majority opinions
regarding Baccalaureate 2013.

[edited for brevity]

If you'd like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me


Hannah Rogers

Baccalaureate 2013 co-chair

This letter was submitted by a reader.   Thank you!  BY

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