Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Lesson

Earl J. Woods, Jeff Crozier and Jonathan Wright sell school newspapers in 1987.
Before blogs, before even BBSes (barely), there were the high school newspapers. From 1985 to 1987, I contributed to The Forum, the newspaper of Leduc Composite High School; I served as the paper's editor during grades eleven and twelve. As noted in one of the yearbook write-ups below, the 80s were a time of rapid transition in publishing, though nowadays even that rapid change seems glacial in comparison to today's evolving industry.

In 1985, Leduc Senior High School was undergoing a significant renovation on its way to becoming Leduc Composite High School. Because our gymnasium wasn't finished, we held our Valentine's Day dance at the nearby junior high. The dance got a little out of control, with copious alcohol consumption and a couple of fights; the evening came to a close when someone lit a set of curtains on fire, which one intrepid student put out by pouring soda over the flames.

In response, I wrote a self-righteous editorial for the paper's next issue, calling the perpetrators punks, hooligans, etc. I was in high dudgeon, and I painted my fellow classmates with a very, very broad brush. A couple of my fellow students said "You can't write this!" but our supervisor, nodding sagely, said that we should go ahead and print it. At first I thought she agreed with my moralistic position, but as soon as the issue was printed posters and effigies flew up on the school walls, replete with pithy slogans such as "Earl Woods Sucks." I was stunned as only a self-righteous crusader could be. Kirby Fox, one of the school's biggest students, grabbed me by the lapels, lifted me over his head and slammed me into the lockers - not hard enough to hurt me, but hard enough to make his point: he wasn't happy. A few students and teachers supported my editorial, but most of my classmates were pretty annoyed with me.

And they were right. In the days that followed, I got to know a whole bunch of other kids much better, as they took pains to explain why my article was so off-base and, frankly, prejudiced. I felt shame, and I realized why our supervisor had allowed the editorial to go ahead: not to teach other students a lesson, but to teach me the value of prudence, fairness and journalistic integrity. After that incident, I learned to look at all sides of the issues.

Here are the yearbook write-ups I provided in 1986 and 1987. Click to embiggen!

3 comments:

Jeff Crozier said...

EARL!!! My Daughter Googles my name and the picture of the three of us came up. Wow Blast from the Past! Great Blog by the way!

Earl J. Woods said...

Hey Jeff! Great to hear from you. I still have fond memories of our time working on the newspaper - obviously, otherwise I wouldn't have written this post! Congratulations on becoming a family man; I hope you and yours are enjoying happy lives.

Jeff Crozier said...

We had some good times for sure. Bio Trek, Newspaper, Hours of play Star Trek role playing, Mocking Daryl Tilroe. Ah yes the High school years.