Last updated: January 28. 2014 8:42PM - 1998 Views
Kevin Spradlin Editor/Content Manager

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As a parent, it can sometimes be difficult to decide whether or not sharing a story that involves one of my children is better kept private or, by telling it, can serve the greater good.

I often favor the latter, much to the dismay of my children. As they are 14, 11 and 4, though, I realize they likely have different perspectives on almost any issue that might arise. It’s the nature of perspective.

Sometimes it’s nice to have their support, as I do in this case.

As a former western Marylander, I have experienced very little culture shock moving to North Carolina and, specifically, Richmond County. Those with whom I’ve talked at any length probably have heard me say this once or a hundred times already since my arrival last September: “It’s eerie how similar Richmond County, N.C., and Allegany County, Md., are. They both have similar populations, similar economic struggles, similar downtown economic revitalization efforts and, by and large, the people are pretty nice.”

There have been a handful of people who have had a very strong southern accent — so strong that, on occasion, I ask them to repeat what they’ve said. When my oldest son, Noah, moved to Rockingham about two weeks ago, the accent was one of the first things he noticed. His northern ears had difficulty understanding our waitress when we went out to dinner.

And then, last Thursday, he started school at the Richmond County Ninth Grade Academy.

It was rather disappointing for me to learn, the afternoon of Noah’s first day at school here, that he had spent the first two and one-half hours in the guidance counselor’s office with four other kids new to the Ninth Grade Academy. The school had had 10 days to prepare for Noah’s arrival and in that time, it seems that no one was able to print out Noah’s schedule. From what Noah told me, the printer wasn’t working and while everyone knew what classes he would have — I was told, over the phone, a week earlier — he had to be in the office until someone could successfully print the schedule.

I don’t like wasting time, and to hear that my son and four others to endure this was unacceptable. Being the new kid on the block, though, we chose to let it go for the moment.

Both Noah and I figured the rules would be different here but yowser, we didn’t realize how many new rules. School uniforms are new to us, and the uneven reasoning behind what is and is not allowed baffles the both of us. Among the limitations:

* Only certain colors of polo shirts.

* Limited colors of hooded sweatshirts.

* Even if wearing a hoodie, the student must wear a polo underneath.

* Only certain colors of khaki-type pants.

* No cargo pockets allowed on khaki pants.

This last one gets me. I shared my bewilderment with other parents who have informed me that (a) it’s to keep students from having a place to hide weapons (which presumes, of course, that weapons can’t be hidden in baggy hoodies) and (b) this won’t be the last policy to which I have a negative reaction.

Boy were they right. Soon after, I learned that of Noah’s four classes, there is one in which the teacher told him this: Should he require to use the restroom more than twice this semester during that class, he’ll face consequences. Short of learning Noah is abusing the policy, I found that rather ludicrous. To suggest any student can’t use the bathroom when needed is silly — and forces me to question whether teachers and staff are held to the same standard.

I don’t believe I’m the only one who might question some of these issues. I believe there needs to be further discussion and have created a private group forum on Facebook called Friends of Richmond County Schools NC. Please consider searching for that forum online. It’s a “closed” group, so one must ask permission to join.

This is not to keep parents and students out of the conversation but to ensure only members of the group have easy, regular access to see the posts instead of the general public. Of course, you posters beware: If it’s on Facebook, consider it public.

The primary target audience for participation is parents and their students who attend Richmond County schools. A secondary group can include those who already have graduated or those who live in Richmond County but go to school at private or public schools in neighboring counties. After all, sometimes it’s nice to compare and contrast ideas and policies.

So c’mon, let’s start talking and maybe we can get the powers that be to reconsider some of these bad ideas.

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