Your daily Letter to the Columnist — Sept. 9, 2013
Note from Dan: The following was written by a parent of a Salem High student. I’ve withheld the author’s name to avoid possible embarrassment to the student.
I was surprised to see my child, a student at Salem High School come to the dinner table last night sporting the new “Spartan Effect” t-shirt that was offered free of charge to all the students.
I was not surprised because it was a Friday game night; not surprised because I had already received a “robocall” from two students trumpeting the newly designed t-shirt’s arrival — and encouraging the community to pay $10 to get their t-shirt at the school or at the local store; and not surprised that my child wants to be included in the hundreds sporting the Salem colors.
What I was surprised about was to see the prominent political advertisement/logo of Greg Habeeb, Virginia House of Delegates (the brother of principal Scott Habeeb) on the left shoulder of the t-shirt. Yes, there were other advertisers, less prominently bunched together on the back of the shirt. Along with the advertising of a local jeweler on the right shoulder (which I believe is owned by a Salem City Council member).
It may be a small thing, but a school principal allowing your brother’s political advertising (paid or not) to be prominently displayed on hundreds and hundreds of shirts, given out free to all students and encouraged by the community to pay for and wear to Friday night football games “to show our community pride” is poor judgment by the school administration at the very least, if not crossing some more serious boundaries.
State employees with supervisory power over others are told to never, ever, bring any political campaigning into the workplace. What is done outside the workplace is, of course, your own business. I would expect the same thing from my tax supported school officials. If that’s not the case in our public schools, given equal opportunity, I would have been willing to pay to have the phrase, “Support Obamacare!” on the other shoulder of this shirt. My guess is that suggestion would not have made it through the administration’s final review before it went to the silk-screening shop.
In Salem, I suspect that this advertising logo will mostly get ignored, but I can’t imagine that there are not others in Salem who are raising their eyebrows, if not questions. It would also be hopeful to believe there might be one or two Salem students who give this advertising a thought as they slip the t-shirt over their heads before heading off to the next game.
Finally, the t-shirt logo on the front broadcasts “Spartan Respect/Spartan Effect.” Respect, as I understand it, is an awareness that all of us do not automatically support the same political individual or party
An independent Salem High School Parent