The following letter was sent from Del. Rick Impallaria to Harford County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Tomback. A copy was provided to The Dagger:
Robert M. Tomback, Ph.D., Superintendent
Harford County Public Schools
102 South Hickory Avenue
Bel Air, Maryland 21014
Dear Dr. Tomback:
I have reviewed the Havre de Grace HS drama therapy tape, and I find very little positive to say about it. It is even difficult to talk about what occurred on stage without using language which is both offensive and improper in any setting, school or otherwise.
In addition to viewing what was on stage, I also paid attention to the reaction of the students both to the skits being acted and to explanations of what they were about to see.
I found nothing improper in the short restaurant scenes between the longer skits, and my comments do not refer to them.
In one skit, two girls read a book on how to treat men. To me this had no educational value. It portrayed women as manipulators of men. No explanation was attempted of what benefits were to be gained from watching this skit.
Another skit had two characters, a young girl upset because her boyfriend would not have sex with her. She complained that his old girlfriend got sex whenever she wanted and was nothing but a tramp. The boy was portrayed as a confused dope who couldn’t make up his mind whether to have sex or not. The girl said she should just dump him for the many guys out there who would have sex with her. Where is the educational value in this? This is portraying women derogatorily as nothing more that [sic] demanding sex toys. The negative character in this, the girl, was shown in a positive light. The positive character, the boy, was represented in a negative light. And who knows what kind of discussions occurred during the writing and rehearsing of this scene? If it were my children who were acting this out, I would be suing the school system, the teachers, and the administrators involved in this.
Another skit, the dying young man and his three friends, actually portrayed something that does happen in real life. However, the profuse bad language employed was not necessary, and once again I must say that at no time did anyone explain the educational value.
In another skit, two male and two female friends in a Starbucks, I had a big question mark as to what it was supposed to be all about. I thought that perhaps this one would not be derogatory, but, true to form, the two nerdy kids, again portrayed in a bad light, walked off to get to know each other better in what I would consider a normal date. The two “cool” kids, within moments of meeting each other and knowing nothing about each other, began making out like two horny sex machines. As I said, I don’t know how you talk about this in acceptable language. Once again, the kids who showed controlled, positive behavior were portrayed negatively, while the two “cool” kids, who acted inappropriately, were again shown positively.
In a skit I call the “Truth or Dare” game, though they used some other name, women were once again portrayed very negatively – as drunk, slutty, irrational, unable to use good judgment. I see no educational value in this, and I don’t believe this accurately portrays the way our children really behave.
The suicide skit was disrespectful to women and disrespectful to the handicapped. Anyone who acted as that girl did toward a handicapped sister would in real life be herself receiving psychiatric help.
I want to know who authorized bringing the gun to school. From the reaction of the students to seeing the gun, it was fortunate that a full-scale panic did not occur. As far as the students knew, the gun was not just a prop, it may have been real. Judging from their reaction, they thought it could have been the beginning of a Columbine incident.
Also, it is quite obvious that the tape was cut and edited at the end of the suicide scene. It was the only editing I saw in the entire tape, which leads me to believe that there is something to hide.
The final skit was just stupid and had absolutely no educational value, other than being slightly comical and satirical.
After viewing the tape, I do believe the children who participated in the skits, as well as the students who were forced to watch them, were abused.
I believe the teachers who put the program on should be removed from teaching children.
Action should be taken against the administrators at Havre de Grace High School who neglected to adequately monitor their staff.
Having participated in theater, I thoroughly understand that what we saw on stage was only a small part of the drama therapy program. 90% of it takes place behind the scenes, and so it is impossible to know what further negative behaviors were being taught to our children.
Delegate, District 7
cc: Mark M. Wolkow, Board Pres.
Leonard D. Wheeler, Ed.D., Board VP
Ruth R. Rich
John L. Smilko
Alysson L. Krchnavy
Don R. Osman
Thomas P. Evans