N.C. principal adds second adviser to appease upset parents

NORTH CAROLINA — At Morehead High School oneadviser for the student newspaper will no longer be enough, according toPrincipal Andy Thacker who recently attempted to quell parental outcry over twoarticles.The Clarion, a 1,200-circulation newspaper, was thetarget of angry phone calls from a handful of parents after the Jan. 9 issuefeatured a story about the marriage of a 17-year-old senior who was then sixmonths pregnant. The second story in question reported that some Moreheadstudents practice the pagan religion, Wicca.Principal Thacker said hewas not as concerned about the marriage story as some of the parents, but thatthe headline for the Wicca story, “Rare religion offers newpossibilities,” was in question.He said he spoke withClarion adviser Laurie Wilson and “we both agreed that in hindsightit probably could have been worded differently.”Wilson would notcomment.Originally, Thacker said he would appoint an assistant principalto review stories for The Clarion. But after a meeting with Wilson andthe student editor Jessica Held, he retracted that plan and said a secondEnglish teacher, Jeanne Rumbley, would work as a co-adviser with thepaper.Thacker said this is not a reflection on Wilson. He told the localdaily, News & Record, “I figured that it helps add an extralayer as another perspective.”Thacker said the administration hasnot made a practice of prior review in the five years he has worked at Morehead.Additionally, none of the other high schools in Rockingham County have policiesof prior review. Thacker said he does not want the students to feel theadministration is “watching their every move,” but he acknowledged,“If we have any further problems, then I will just have to do what wetalked about originally.” Held couldnot be reached for comment, but she told the News & Record that shewas pleased the second adviser would be a teacher, not anadministrator.Held said she and The Clarion staff do not feelthere was anything wrong with the stories in question, but small groups of staffmembers are now reviewing stories to catch errors or questionablematerial.Thacker said, “I think if anything, what will come out ofthis is that the kids will do probably a better job.”A secondincident of a principal implementing prior review of a student newspaper alsooccurred in January at H.D. Woodson High School in Washington, D.C. PrincipalEdwin C. Jones ordered that the student newspaper, The Insider bereviewed by a panel of teachers prior to publication following a controversialarticle that was published in the Jan. 11 issue.The WashingtonPost reported that an article entitled “Bent on Revenge: What have Ibecome?” sparked numerous parents to call and complain. The article said,“When I’m done with this place, there will be miles and miles ofyellow tape and hallways filled with tears.” Jones said thearticle was inadvertently published without a disclaimer that explained it wasfictional.