Temple-VHS flap could have been handled better

Published 11:00 pm Saturday, May 19, 2012

To the high school Class of 2012: The world does not start and stop at your convenience. Get used to it. And get over your own self-interests.

Instead of benefitting from a truly teachable exercise involving a group of people who went through the trenches of “old Mississippi,” some students and parents at Vicksburg High only see the possibility of a mild inconvenience. Today’s students are coddled, spoiled rotten and better learn to give up the notion that anything is owed to them. You are owed nothing.

A VHS senior summed up the feelings of way too many of today’s youths: “Our concern is that it’s taking away from our day. It’s taken us 12 years to get this far and to say we made it. We’ve been looking forward to this since we were freshmen, and we don’t want Rosa A. Temple to share the field.”

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That one ignorant quote contains two “ours,” an “us,” and four “we’s.” More shocking is the final sentence: “We don’t want Rosa A. Temple to share the field.” As if it were the students’ field to begin with. And why not share the spotlight with a group of people who went through more indignities, more injustices than your brain can comprehend?

They walked on the opposite side of the street. They drank from separate water fountains. They were treated as second-class citizens. And these children today have the temerity to not only claim Memorial Stadium as their own, but to say all those who paved the way on the rockiest of roads are not welcome at “their” ceremony?

Every student and every parent who signed that letter should be ashamed. The superintendent has promised the Temple event will have little effect on the graduation. The time even has been backed up to avoid any conflict.

A few inconveniences — parking the largest of the little — might happen. But then again, children today should not be inconvenienced.

Spoiled, rotten brats with no depth of thought about the struggles students at Rosa A. Temple went through 50 years ago.

How much more could be learned by embracing Temple’s reunion, to speak to the first class to graduate after spending four years at the school named for one of the city’s great educators, show respect for what those students went through and to honor their sacrifices? Today’s students also can see the successes these people have made of life. They faced obstacles students today could not even fathom. Against the largest of odds, the Rosa A. Temple Class of 1962 found a way to excel.

They did not struggle so a few self-important, spoiled parents and children could file a petition to kick them off a field that does not belong to the senior class of VHS. A little history. The former Temple High building is currently Vicksburg Junior High. The field across the street is where the mighty Buccaneers played football. In 1972, when Temple closed and desegregation happened, two schools — North and South Vicksburg — were formed for one year. Those two schools combined in 1973 to form Vicksburg High. So Temple students became Gators and played on that same field that you now claim as your own.

Today’s path for students, as difficult as it might appear to some, pales to what those Temple High graduates faced. But today’s students — at least the ones who signed those petitions — want no part of learning about that struggle.

Get over yourselves. Enjoy graduation ceremonies. And get ready for a life that owes you nothing.

And one day, look back at how a selfish act stole the show.