Recently, the first- year principal of Poplar Middle School asked that a group of students remain behind after an assembly. Because each of those students was receiving failing grades in at least one subject, the principal used a pep talk of sorts in an attempt to motivate them to work harder.
Many parents of failing students were offended that their children were singled out and various complaints ensued claiming that their children had been unnecessarily shamed. The principal apologized to each of the students and last night several parents met behind closed doors to complain to the school board. Asking for the principal’s termination or involuntary cultural training, parents appeared to be seeking someone to blame.
Poplar Montana is a small community located in Northeastern Montana. Its widespread poverty, alcoholism, violent crime, and unemployment provide a sharp contrast to the peaceful friendly image common in Montana’s small towns. Bars grace the windows of area businesses, drunks stumble across the street in broad daylight, and it is common for family members to stab each other. Police corruption in Poplar is legendary. Is it any real surprise that children aren’t happy growing up in Poplar?
Last year, 5 Poplar Middle School students committed suicide. There were 20 other attempts as well. Out of the total number of middle school students (140), 25 attempted suicide and 5 were successful. That is a staggering number that for the most part has evaded media attention. The Poplar Middle School suicides are far more disturbing than a principal’s unpopular new tactics. Obviously something ISN’T working in the Poplar school system, perhaps parents should be looking in the mirror when they want someone to blame.