Thursday, May 15, 2008

MySpace page puts at least one man behind bars

Sharon, PA — (AP) – Grand Heights High School has fallen to an all time grand low this week when several students and graduates were held for questioning regarding photos and postings on a student-run Punk Rocky MySpace page.

The Punk Rocky online fanzine contained pro-hemp articles, at least one full-color picture of a naked student and an advertisement for sodomy. A recent graduate, called “Nothing” by Grand Heights classmates, was positively identified in the pictures. He also takes credit for the ad. He says, “That magazine is our personal business. We didn’t make it at school. We don’t even go to school there now. The administrators need something better to do than stalk kids online.”

Grand Heights school officials are beating their chests in frustration like the school mascot, the gorilla, over the scandal. After being alerted to the MySpace page by a concerned parent, school administrators and counselors linked to Punk Rocky’s “friends” and were surprised and disturbed by the kind of material they found there. They continued by searching the lockers of the students involved in any of the pictures and posts. At least one underclassman has been suspended after a series of undelivered letters (addressed simply “Dear friend”) were found in his locker. These letters reveal a series of disturbing events about a clique of students who run the Punk Rocky MySpace and their “friends.”

An English teacher, who wished to remain unnamed, said the suspended student was, “One of the smartest people he ever met. It’s unfortunate that his involvement in this extra-curricular activity will cost him a position in the National Honor Society. I feel bad because this magazine was one area where he was able to shine. I kept telling him he needed to participate.” Police say this sophomore was picked up in a snow bank last winter. The letters reveal this was a result of taking LSD, supplied to him by a former student. Although the letters changed all of the names of the students involved, they identified the dealer as “Bob.” It turns out that Bob attends a local community college, where some say he’s studying the culinary arts. “The only thing I know that Bob has ever cooked,” says one of his customers, “is pot brownies.” Bob has been supplying drugs to students of Grand Heights since he was enrolled there in the late 1980s.

Although the administrators, district board members and local authorities are taking action, none have released official statements at this time. We do know that “Bob” is being held on drug charges, including possession and distribution to minors.

Other students are receiving consequences for their individual pages linked through Punk Rocky as a “friends.” The captain and star of Grand Heights’ football team last fall has lost his athletic scholarship due to underage drinking and “questionable behavior” in photos posted on some pages. His college has agreed to red shirt him in his first season if he goes back to rehab and continues with AA. Yet another teammate was suspended for taking and posting pictures of his girlfriend while she was naked and presumably passed-out at a kegger. These pictures were not only posted to his MySpace page, but also printed and hung on the front of his football locker. The girlfriend refused to comment, but the “Dear Friend” letters indicate that she was sexually assaulted as many as four years ago by this same boyfriend.

Parents of current and former students are furious at the invasion of privacy and punishments they feel are “too severe.” One father said, “All of this happened in the past! Why is the school dredging up all of this now? Let these kids move on with their lives, for cryin’ out loud! Besides,” he continued, “Kids will be kids and boys will be boys.”

Mary Elizabeth, the magazine’s founder, said, “Thank god I am out of that hell-hole. I feel bad for the kids who took the magazine over. I can’t believe the school is going to hold them accountable for things that happened over a year ago. I’m just lucky I got into Berkeley before those morons ruined it for me.”

One parent is taking this issue to the school board. She thinks the school has gone too far and infringed upon the students’ right to privacy. She said, “This is a First Amendment issue. The school board needs to see this an invasion of privacy. The school is not a police agency. Teachers and administrators should be here to educate our kids, not investigate their behavior in their free time. The authorities can decide what to do about the kids who are breaking laws. The school board needs to come up with a policy to protect our kids, not punish them.”

School Chemical Dependency counselor, Sunshine Shine said, “We need to make sure our kids have a fun and safe place to learn. When we are presented with pro-hemp articles written by known drug dealers, we have to do something about it. Unfortunately, some of the kids are feeling the effects of drugs in ways they didn’t expect. It’s more than a bad trip. This is real life.”

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