National eyes have been fixed on the Teton County Wyoming School District this week. It all centers on controversy at Jackson Hole High School. The administration and the student body decided not to have “America Day” as part of Spirit Week last week.
Each day had a theme for dressing up as part of the homecoming activities. They felt “America Day” would be offensive to some, and instead, chose other themes. Some parents and students were upset and this has received national media coverage. So Eyewitness News went to the source to clear the air. News anchor Todd Kunz talked with Superintendent Dr. Gillian Chapman. She said it was, in no way, meant to offend anyone. Kunz asked her how they will move forward next time.
“Everything we do in education is a learning experience. Could we have communicated this better? When the student council representative and the administration determined the spirit themes for the day, they could have done a much better job of communicating what those themes were and how they were selected. So going forward, absolutely, I think we’ll do a much better job with it,” said Chapman.
The reports are the administration and student council sent out a student survey and “America Day” was No. 3 on the list. One parent Eyewitness News talked to said the majority of students never even saw the survey and students who wanted to fill it out, couldn’t find it. Some of the student took actions into their own hands and came to school in patriotic dress.
That parent told Kunz that a real teaching opportunity was lost.
“I didn’t care what religion you are, what color you are, you’re American. We’re American. You know, if you’re in our school system and benefiting from our educational program, take pride from it. The school administration, in my eyes, missed a phenomenal opportunity to teach people that may have felt offended or may have felt repressed or singled out that this is what America stands for. You can be heard and look at the way you’re benefiting. You’re growing. You’re living in one of the prettiest places in the world and getting this phenomenal education,” said Ted Dawson, a concerned parent.
Dawson said, under no condition, does he have any problem with the administration. He is friends with many of them.
Chapman said this was sensationalized by national media.
The school district published a letter to the Jackson Hole High School community, explaining what happened.