The Ottumwa Courier

Education

July 9, 2013

Controversial school play cancelled

(Continued)

He understands students and alumni who are pushing for the show. Acceptance is an important subject matter in a district that has, in the past, been criticized for having a less than accepting atmosphere. That's something staff is working on daily, Eidahl said, and even the assessments of student attitudes about acceptance show a steady improvement.

"We know we still have work to do," he said. "We work on creating a sense of belonging for each and every student. Senseless acts of bullying for reasons of differences like those [depicted in] this documentary are a great lesson to be learned. But is it the only way we can get this point across? No. It's not about one play, one initiative or one assembly; it's about creating a sense of belonging each and every day.

"Our work to create respectful, compassionate students is a constant effort. That one play is not the backbone of our effort to create students respectful of differences, whether they are physical, lifestyle, our choices or ways of thought," Eidahl said.

The superintendent said since the announcement was made, a lot of emotions have come to the surface. He acknowledged he's received respectful letters both for and against his decision.

Kayla Rowe, a 2008 OHS graduate, wrote a letter to the Courier's editor.

"We have a responsibility as a society to face issues, such as the one presented in The Laramie Project, because without recognizing and tackling them, we are doomed to keep struggling with them without resolution," she wrote.

She said the show is about a brutal killing and the unprecedented effect it had on a town.

"Regardless of your beliefs on homosexuality, this show is, to me, a statement on how people's lives and deaths have such a profound effect on one another."

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