Prom controversy season begins (5×8 – 4/15/11)

Too old for the prom, the life of Walter, the lasting injury of child abuse, nothing can save a kid like a pony, and the curse of the long-distance runner.


1)TOO OLD FOR THE PROM?

Why do schools make things so difficult by making so many silly decisions where dances and proms are concerned? The great school controversies of the last year mostly seem to involve some sort of dance or prom or pep rally in which educators apply a strange rule and fear the boogeyman of precedent. Ask any adult person about psychological trauma and, trust me, you can trace it back to the prom.

Here’s today’s world of future hurt: A kid in a Florida high school is dating a 19 year old woman — a former student at the same school. She took him to her prom a few years ago and now that it’s prom season again, he wants to take her.

The school principal says “no.” She’s too old…

“If I have to make an exception for her, where does it stop?” the principal says. ” We know they are good people, but I can’t have adults at a high school dance. Parents trust me to take care of their kids. I can’t have older adults there.”

Where does it stop? How about 21, the legal age for adulthood in most states? That’s what a school board in Pennsylvania settled on.

Compare with this story from New Orleans: A young man’s mom couldn’t attend her senior prom; she had dropped out. Tomorrow night, her son is taking her to the prom.

Other school-related items: The chess team. Griff Wigley visits the Northfield Chess team. There’s something comforting about pictures of kids playing chess.

And in Chanhassen this weekend, the state speech tournament gets underway. The Bemidji Pioneer uncovers the secrets of the speech club. “For one, we all talk to walls when we are practicing,” student Caleb Pfremmer said.

2) THE LIFE OF WALTER

Walter Breuning has died. He was the world’s oldest man. He was originally from Melrose, Minnesota, and moved back after his family split up. He had to go to work for the railroad at age 16 and there he stayed for 50 years. It’s a long obituary because it was a long life. We should all have such stories.

3) CHILDHOOD ABUSE/TRAUMA’S LASTING PAIN

Today’s must-read comes from MPR’s Laura Yuen, reporting on a conference taking place in the Twin Cities today that considers evidence that exposure to trauma and/or abuse inflicted on children creates physical adult woes. We’ve known for years, of course, that there’s a long-lasting emotional toll.


In the mid-1980s, McCollum was a young family doctor in Chanhassen when a woman in her 40s came to see him about chronic abdominal pain. A series of tests had failed to determine the cause of her aches.

At the time, McCollum was just beginning to hear anecdotal links between childhood trauma and chronic pain. He wanted to know if the woman had been sexually or physically abused as a girl.

He had never asked a patient about such issues before, so he stumbled through the question. When the woman responded that she had been abused as a child, McCollum knew he was on to something.

4) NOTHING CAN SAVE A KID LIKE A PONY5) THE CURSE OF THE LONG-DISTANCE RUNNER

You marathoners are ruining marathons. The Fargo Forum reports today that organizers of the sixth annual Fargo Marathon, considered the nation’s best marathon for newbies, may cap the number of entrants. Other area marathons capped the number of runners years ago.

Next week, the Boston Marathon will be held. You have to qualify to run in Boston but now new rules are about to be imposed that will prevent some people who qualify from being able to run.

The problem with marathons? Too many marathoners, NPR reports.Speaking of Boston, how many of you News Cut readers are running in it? Step forward.

More sports…

Pro golfer Kevin Na shot a 16 on one hole at the Texas Open yesterday. He can golf with me anytime!

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE DAY

If only parenthood were this easy…

TODAY’S QUESTION

Wilderness advocates are suing to prevent construction of a cell phone tower visible from some places in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. If a tower can be seen from the wilderness, is that a reason not to build it?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: For 20 years, Teach for America has trained college graduates to teach in low-income communities across the country. Teach for America’s founder discusses the program’s impact in a new book.

At 9:45 a.m.: Rep. Chip Cravaack on the budget.

Second hour: Gardening advice.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: The history, politics and policy implications of a progressive tax structure.

Second hour: MPR special, “Writing Minnesota.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: A look at herpes infections and whether we should be testing for them.

Second hour: Anthropologist Richard Leakey on the origins of humankind

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - A conversation with Bill White about his new baseball memoir, Uppity. White played baseball, announced baseball games and was the president of baseball’s National League. He came a long way from the segregation and racial taunts he had to endure as an African-American player in a Southern minor league town.

  • Greg W

    Here’s a good Q & A with Walter in last month’s Men’s Journal magazine.

  • Jeanne

    I love the video with Walter. It made my cranky bones feel less cranky this morning.

  • Drae

    “If I have to make an exception for her, where does it stop?” the principal says. ” We know they are good people, but I can’t have adults at a high school dance. Parents trust me to take care of their kids. I can’t have older adults there.”

    Wow! If 17 and 18 year old kids can’t handle a 19 year old at a dance, I fear for their ability to cope with college and or the work force. If the parents of these kids also can’t handle a 19 year old being at prom, then I marvel they allow their kids out of the house in the first place.

  • Lucy

    I’d take my Mom to my Prom. She dances a mean Lindy.

    In protest they should all bring their mothers.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Re The Prom

    “If we did it for you, we would have to do it for everybody”. The pathetic excuse of bureaucrats that are in over their heads,

    and rather than using their heads, get their sense of fulfillment from exercising their power

    over the people who they are supposed to be serving.

    These bright young adults make this guy look like a moron.

  • John O.

    //”Where does it stop? How about 21, the legal age for adulthood in most states?”

    About the only thing you cannot do between the ages of 18 and 20 is buy alcohol. Or become a member of the U.S. House (25 for that), U.S. Senate (30 years old for that) or President (35 years old). Otherwise, you are an adult (probationary adult?) at 18 years old.

  • Tboom

    >> The Bemidji Pioneer uncovers the secrets of the speech club. “For one, we all talk to walls when we are practicing,” student Caleb Pfremmer said.

    I always wondered how politicians were trained … its speech club!!!! All that talking and nobody listening.

  • Tyler

    Well, in regards to marathons being too well attended, I’m doing my part by watching TV and eating potato chips.

  • kennedy

    re: Marathons

    The problem is not that there are too many marathon runners. The problem is that there are too many marathon walkers. There should be a time limit, say 5 hours. This would limit the field and get people off the roads in a timely manner. If someone can’t finish in that amount of time, they are probably injured, sick, or otherwise unfit for the physical exertion.

    If you want to walk 26 miles, use one of Minnesota’s fine trails.