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Phil In The Blank

Phil in the Blank A column by Phil Custodio

December 08, 2010 - Driving to Depot Park Saturday evening for a bullying-awareness, candlelight vigil, I wasn't sure what I would find.

Maybe no one would be there. Maybe Steve Hyer, president of Clarkston School Board, was right when he suggested bullying wasn't an issue in Clarkston. The school board had passed a policy against it, after all.

But a small crowd of people, mostly students from Clarkston High School, waited in the cold darkness as I walked up.

During the vigil, several shared their own stories to go along with the one I wrote about last week. At least for some, bullying is an issue, and a serious one.

A reader commented on the issue on our Facebook page, describing Mr. Hyer's comments in last week's paper ("We have not been informed of an increase in bullying...") as a "Jedi mind trick," as in, "you don't need to see any information on bullying. This isn't the issue you're looking for."

That would make me the hapless, weak-willed stormtrooper. My line was supposed to be, "This isn't the issue I'm looking for. Move along. Move along."

The lack of response from school officials was disappointing. I wanted to hear what they were facing and how they dealt with it. Instead, the response reminded me of the don't-talk-about-anything-negative-that-might-hurt-home-sales approach of the former school administration.

The district has a policy ... no kidding. I wanted to know what was happening in the trenches, the hallways of the junior high and middle school especially, where kids are especially vulnerable to becoming and being victimized by bullies, with the raging hormones and all that.

Instead, it falls to a ninth-grade student to respond on the serious issue of bullying, as included on page 7A.

The student's letter this week seems to contradict the story last week. This could mean one is lying, but in this case, I don't think so. Both are telling the truth, from their point of view. Sticking with Star Wars' Obi Wan Kenobi, "many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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