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Letters to the editor - 3/22/03

March 24, 2003

Why I complained about lyrics for 'Les Mis' songs



To the editor:


Sometimes in life we run into a circumstance in which we feel obligated to carry through with our thoughts and feelings. This all started when my daughter said to me, mom, Matthew (my grandson) said he would not be offended if you do not go to see the musical "Les Miserables," (a musical being held at Williamsport High School) because he knows you will not like the language it contains.

I said yes, that if it contained bad language, I would not be attending. I called the central office of the Board of Education and requested a copy of the musical to read. I was told that to do that I must file a form called "Public Complaints about the Curriculum or Instructional Materials."

I said I would be willing to do this. Before I go any further, I want to say this to Matthew: Nan is proud that you know her well enough to know of her likes and dislikes, and that I would not want to do anything to cause a problem for you.

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The real reason I am filing my complaint is in honor of, and because of the love and respect I have for the one I serve. His name is Jesus.

First, I am not against the Williamsport High School, the Sophisti' Cats nor do I think Miss Ridenour is terrible. In fact, in my complaint I stated that I truly believe Miss Ridenour is a very hard-working, dedicated teacher who loves her job and students very much. In general I have loved all the musicals/plays presented at the Williamsport High School.

Second, in answer to another remark, this complaint is not about nothing, it is about life today, which I feel has many attitudes like, "So what!," "Who cares!," and "It doesn't matter."

To me it's like saying anything's all right and anything goes. To me, this is not the way life is meant to be. God wants us to have a desire to follow Him and obey His Commandments.

Don't blame the church; I requested prayer there because I believe in the power of prayer. I truly believe God answered the prayers for as His word says, He gives each of us a choice and the choices we make are what we have to answer for when we meet Him face to face one day in the judgement.

Third, I really wanted to wait and put this article in the paper after my final complaint was heard at the board. I had my meeting, but have not heard of the results. Fourth, I have read the 'Les Miserables' book and heard the music and words. Miss Ridenour made CDs for all the committee. It was part of the complaint meeting, so I listened. I must say in all honesty that if there were no singing and there was just music to listen to, the music alone would be beautiful.

I received a letter in the mail stating that the Media Committee recommended that the production of "Les Miserables" go forward as planned. The suggested changes recommended by a school official at the Central Office were apparently overruled. I don't know since I was not there to hear or discuss the final decisions. I just had to read the letter which I was sent and say "I've done what I could do."

Next, I attended a meeting at the central office with one of the officials there, and left there with these thoughts and concerns still on my mind:

1. In my letter from WHS's Media Committee, it stated that "Les Miserables" is a moral story and in no way prurient. (My dictionary defines the word "prurient" as follows: Having or expressing lustful ideas or desires.)

Please explain to me then what is meant in the song called "The Docks" when it reads in the book "He gestures toward Fantine seductively." I really don't want to repeat what my dictionary gives as a definition of the word "seductively" but you know what I'm saying.

2. In my complaint I said I was concerned about little children attending this performance. I am happy to see the last advertisement in the papers regarding the sale of tickets for "Les Miserables," that it included the words "Due to mature themes, parents should use discretion when bringing children."

3. I am concerned by the bad language. While attending my meeting at the Central Office, I asked the question, "Are students allowed to use bad language in school?" No, they said. Then the question I want answered is: Why is it allowed in a play/musical? Is the play/musical not a part of the school? My greatest concern regarding this matter is if this is allowed now, then what will be allowed next?

4. My next question was: Who makes the choices as to what play/musical is given at the schools? Is this left at the discretion of the music teacher, or are there some other guidelines used for selecting the plays/musicals?

Included in my complaint I stated that I would be at the front door of the WHS each night of the play from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m., one hour before each performance. Any concerned citizens who would like to stand with me, please feel free to join me. If it looks like I'm standing alone, believe me, I won't be. God is with me, and He is in control.

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