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A Lesson Hard Learned

What really makes change.

I went to a Catholic high school and when I was a senior a nun was made the principal. Sister Maureen was put in charge because the diocese wanted to get the sports boosters under control. The school had a very good football team and I understand that there were accusations of the sports boosters doing very unethical things with the money they raised for the football team.

The interesting thing about Sr. Maureen was that the first things she did as principal was put the screws to the students rather unnecessarily.

Every fall we had a canned food drive and on certain days of the food drive if you brought in a canned food good you got to wear blue jeans (wearing blue jeans was normally against the school dress code) or for Halloween the upperclassmen could wear a costume. All of that ended with Sr. Maureen.

The administration's explanation for this particular change was that we were supposed to do the right thing because it was the right thing to do and not because it was, heavens forbid, fun! Consequently the canned food drive raised barely a third of what it normally did.

Another change Sr. Maureen instituted was that the administration decided what company would hold the food concession in the student center. The student council had made the decision in the past but I guess Sr. Maureen felt that we as young children were just over our heads in deciding what food was nutritious enough for us.

Another thing that changed was the smoking policy towards the students. Until Sr. Maureen, upperclassmen, if they wanted, could smoke in a designated area just outside the school on the school grounds during certain times of day. That was no longer allowed and if a student was seen smoking on his or her way home from school that student would be disciplined. It didn't really matter that if you walked by the teachers' lounge and the door opened you could see and smell the blue-gray haze of cigarette smoke come wafting into the hallway.
At the Christmas concert given by the school band the song "Joy to the World" was played. But not the "Joy to the World, The Lord has Come" song, but the song by Three Dog Night. My mom was sitting close to Sr. Maureen during the concert and my mom told me that Sr. Maureen looked like she was going to have an intestinal hemorrhage when the first line of the song was played. The band director was reprimanded for what Sr. Maureen called "disrespectful and inappropriate" behavior. It made me wonder if Sr. Maureen had any idea as to the lyrics of the Three Dog Night song were.

The saddest thing that Sr. Maureen did was at the end if the school year she did not renew the contract of one of the religion class teachers. This teacher taught the comparative religion course. He taught the course in a very neutral way. I learned quite a bit about Judaism, Islam and Hinduism from this teacher, but this is a Catholic high school, there are no religions but Catholicism!

Now all of these policy changes would come with a memo from the administration that would state very clearly that these changes were an administration decision. This basically meant that the change was made, it was made without the input from anybody but the administration and that we were going to have to live with the change because it was a done deal.

A few weeks into the school year, the students didn't like Sr. Maureen and by the end of the school year I don't think any of the teachers liked her very much either. It wasn't until the next year when Sr. Maureen fired the assistant football coach that enough of the parents said that she goes or we don't send our children to this particular school that the diocese was forced to fire her.

I guess the moral to my story is that if you want to make change the best way to do it is economically.

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