Richard J. Harte of Delmar is Not Amused

My son Zack’s eighth grade social studies class at St. Thomas School recently studied about the Roaring Twenties —and capped it off by turning the classroom into a speakeasy where they danced the Charleston and swigged grape juice. Somebody thought this picture was so cute that they sent it to our local weekly, The Spotlight.

Well, not everyone thought it was cute, like this guy who fired off a letter to the paper:

As a long-time parishioner of St. Thomas in Delmar, I can’t think of a more inspiring way to begin the religious season of Lent than by having a 1920’s prohibition event for the school’s eighth graders… complete with faux “booze” (photo, 1920s roar to life, march 11).

To say I am a little surprised and shocked at both the timing and the function is an understatement. I realize that the purpose was an educational exercise examining the Roaring ’20s, but do you really educate children by having them act out a disregard for the law (Prohibition) and promote the consumption of alcohol as a fun thing to do? Then to publicize the occasion by submitting a group photo of the kids, complete with bottles and glasses in hand. And we wonder why the children of this and other communities start drinking at an early age.

Seriously, “educators,” did you think this out beforehand?

P.S. – Yes, I do enjoy a drink, and yes, thank you, I do have a life.

Richard J. Harte

Yes, Mr. Harte, of course you have a life. Your life is writing ridiculous letters to the local newspaper.

7 thoughts on “Richard J. Harte of Delmar is Not Amused

  1. Instead, maybe students should just sit with their hands folded behind their desks, read from black and white textbooks and speak when spoken to. Bringing the studies into the classroom in a fun, interactive way that’s likely to really drive home the lesson so that they will remember it years from now? Shameful!

    Just like those kids who are likely to become smokers at an early age because they think “smoking” Smarties is funny, maybe these kids will be alcoholics and miscreants because they drank sparkling grape juice at a party at school. The horror!

  2. Actually he has a very strong point if you or members of your family have ‘problems’ with alcohol. And you have a young child you want to have a healthy attitude towards drinking.

    This is my situation. Borderline alcoholism runs deep in my family. I have had my periods of moderate alcohol and drug abuse. I was lucky enough to be able to leave those behind in my twenties but others in my family have not.

    I consider myself a very progressive, open-minded parent who recognizes that wine and beer and mixed drinks can have a healthy presence, but struggle daily with explaining to a six year old why grandma’s acting the way she does.

    You’re right, Mr. Harte. There are those of us who have sensitivities toward this kind of behavior, and if my daughter was an eighth grader there I would’ve also made an issue out of it.


  3. Thanks, Chuck….

    Maybe I’m a bad parent, but my kid is one of those hoisting a bottle in the picture and I’m not bothered a bit —and I know a thing or two about the destructive power of alcohol.

  4. @ChuckD, while I understand the effects of alcohol are a life-long issue, I think that part of encouraging your kids to have a healthy attitude towards it is not feeling that they have to be sheltered from it. If it’s a secretive, forbidden fruit, of course your kids will be curious and want to experiment. But, if you take an opportunity like this to tell your kids why alcohol in moderation is the best policy, maybe it can be a learning experience, rather than something to be feared.

    I think that especially if you have a sensitivity, you should use every opportunity as a chance to educate… otherwise, when your sheltered six-year-old is eighteen and goes to college, it will be all downhill from there.

  5. …And we are very open about it. Both my wife and I like *a* glass of wine or beer at dinner (neither of us are hard liquor drinkers), and I even am a homebrewer as a hobby. So “adult” drinks are very much a part of our life. I hope we educating by example.

    What I object to is school providing an atmosphere of having fun with overindulgence (which while not explicitly part of this picture, I’m confident was in the minds of at least a couple of these kids). Trust me when I say I’m no prude about it and drinking is definitely not ‘forbidden fruit’. This was a misplay on the school’s part and maybe emblematic of part of the problem.

    And Rob, I hope I didn’t cast any aspersions as to who’s a ‘good’ parent or ‘bad’ parent. None intended;

    I was just reading over in the Gazette about the parent who was arrested for using the belt on his 13 yo boy. While I was spanked, and my cousins occasionally got the belt, we don’t use any kind of physical c0ercion on our daughter other than the occasional authoritative grasp of the arm for attention, and that’s really rare. But I was sympathetic with that parent. It’s likely reflective of his background and how he understands parenting should go. Not for me to judge.


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