Here is your chance to win passes to the Fresno Art Museum,... Enter Now
Do You Wanna Dance and a-Hold My Hand Grenade?
President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" Act has inspired administrators to come up with new, innovative ideas to motivate students to improve their standardized test scores.
Inoffensive, well thought-out, good-time ideas, like the US Armed Forces dance held last February at Bullard High School.
Since chastising teachers and principals for poor test scores is actually a perverse incentive for most high school students, the administrators at Bullard offer free school dance tickets to students who score well on tests (dummies gotta pay). This cutting-edge solution has led to nine school dances a year, much to the delight of the acrylic nail trade. But the volume of school dances has created an unexpected problem: school dance theme shortages.
Since Casino Night, A Night in Paris, Luau Party, Under the Sea, Sadie Hawkins, Night of the Long Knives, I'll Take Manhattan, and Country Hoe Down had all been used, leadership decided to add something new to the mix three years ago: "Army Dance." After the Navy got pissy, the theme was renamed The Bullard High School US Armed Forces Dance, SIR!
This theme was deemed inappropriate by a group of students, all members of the Students for Social Action club. "We talked to the activities director (Laurie Momjian) last year about changing the theme, but she didn't really take us seriously," said Eloira Brown, one of the suspended students. "I just thought it was not appropriate for school. It says the army is cool and fun. You get to dance and get drunk and make out with who's there. It's low-level brainwashing."
Laurie Momjian did not return a call seeking comment.
"I just thought it was disrespectful to the military, to the families who lost soldiers. It's like dancing at a funeral. I didn't think it was appropriate," said another suspended student, Conor McCloskey. "We weren't all protesting the Iraq war," he added.
After their appeal to change the theme was denied, the students sought action. "First we had this idea, and we decided we were gonna have a die in. We made shirts with red paint. My shirt said "US: 500 deaths, Iraq: ?" recalled Brown. Another shirt said "Drop Bush not Bombs". The dance encouraged students to dress in military-style garb.
The night of the dance, "they had up some streamers and a cheap DJ. They did like a half decoration" explained McCloskey. "Thirty minutes into it we walked in, and went to the center where everyone was dancing. And we just laid on the ground."
"Everybody just crowed around and started yelling at us, 'Get off the floor!' and cussing at us. Kids were like spitting at us- I know two people got spit on- and I got kicked in the head and back," Brown explained matter-of-factly.
The die-in lasted approximately two minutes.
According to the students, campus assistants pulled people off the ground and told everyone to get up. They were then taken to the Vice Principal's office.
"Ms. Momjian thought we were all on drugs. She thought it was some new dance that we were doing because we were on this new drug, and that we all passed out," Brown and the others explain with bewildered laughter.
In all, five students were suspended for three days, the same punishment given to students found with drugs on campus. After first amendment complaints from Brown's mother, the administration reduced the suspension to one day. There was no punishment given to those students who kicked and spat on the protesters.
The dance was made possible by a donation from the Boys and Girls club. The students doubted if they had been told how the donation was used.
In the end, the die-in was successful: the administration will not allow another "Army Dance" next year, for fear of a similar disruption.