[Note from the Author: In most of my articles, I fear I go too far and then find out I’ve pulled my punches. That is true of this article. There was much more that happened at this particular school, during and before my time there, that I’m only just hearing about now. Shocking stories that need to be told! The Principal I wrote this letter too is obviously not responsible for what occurred before his tenure.)
My graduating class is a trainwreck, Mr. Principal, and you’re responsible.
Well, that’s a little harsh, a little unfair. But there’s a lot of truth in it. You pretended to run a Christian School. It was nothing of the sort and you knew it! You took our parents’ tuition money under false pretenses. Or maybe that’s why our parents sent us there. Many of them were fake narcissistic so-called Christians too and your thick handbook of extreme rules appealed to their need to suppress, oppress, project-upon, guilt and shame their innocent children just like you did.
There’s an old cliché: Water will find its own level. Considering the swamp mud you attracted to your school…!
I’ll never forget that day in Chapel. You, Mr. Principal, were preaching. You told us your wife said, “Why don’t you just go out there and tell them they’re good kids.”
You smiled condescendingly down at us, paused for dramatic effect and said you couldn’t do that. One thing you took objection to was our “bad language.” I never heard even one classmate say “damn.” But by the time your sermon was over, we couldn’t even say “nuts” to express frustration. That was the level of so-called righteousness you held us to.
Meanwhile, two members of the staff, married men no less, were having sex with the young female students and you knew it! You knew of at least one incident.
You covered it up.
You specifically ordered the student body not to talk amongst themselves about “it.” I found out twenty years later that “it” was adultery followed by an annulment and the [edited] groomer and his victim tying the knot.
But we kids were the bad ones!?! We carry a burden of guilt and shame through life, feeling ourselves bad Christians, never able to meet the extreme standards you set for us.
It doesn’t give me pleasure to write this but it needs to be said for the sake of my suffering classmates. I don’t hate you, Mr. Principal, and I don’t hate the school. But oh! how I hate the hypocrisy of you and some of your staff and the havoc you wreak on our souls to this day.
What about those teachers you hired, eh?
What about the teacher who spanked, taped and tied up a student? I was nine-years-old and I watched her do it.
Oh, there was a hubbub for awhile. She disappeared for a respectable length of time, but after the dust settled, you hired her back. Put her in the classroom with little children again. I met her twenty years after the original incident. Ran into her in the Ladies Restroom. She was telling the women in the bathroom which stalls they could and could not use. Queen of the Shitter, I guess. That was her level. Any idiot could tell exactly the type of woman she was. How did you miss that?
How did you miss the vibes from all the creepy teachers you hired? Any kid could’ve told you which were the good ones and which were the creeps. It was obvious to anyone with a spark of intuition, except you.
Come to think of it, all the new teachers you hired were creeps. We teenage girls went through High School with our arms wrapped across our chests because the male teachers made eye contact not with our faces, but with our breasts. Good “Christian” men they were! Those detention-worthy Handbook Rules that mandated high-high necklines and low-low hemlines did nothing to protect us!
Twenty years later, the truth is coming out. There were porn addicts. Men who beat their wives. Men who tried to peek up skirts. Men who threatened to kill their families. Rageaoholics. Men who cheated on their wives. [Edited] And worse. I don’t know all the stories yet. Some have yet to be told; some will be taken to the grave. That’s the type of teachers whom you attracted to / allowed at your so-called “Christian” school. Narcissists, just like you, using religion as a costume to hide who you really were.
Swamp water will find it’s own level.
But any kid could’ve told you that. We loathed those creeps but we didn’t know why. Now we know! The truth is out.
You were supposed to have Godly discernment. You were supposed to protect us. If we were supposed to adhere to that much-hated handbook of rules for conduct, clothes, hairstyles, music then certainly you should’ve held yourself to an even higher standard as the giver of the rules.
But you didn’t.
Frankly, if my son did what your son “allegedly” did to those innocent little 14-year-old girls…I’d never speak to him again. Some things are beyond the pale. But you, apparently, don’t have those standards.
We students were sent to Christian school to avoid all that stuff. Our parents sacrificed, worked, scrimped and saved to afford the tuition to protect us from the “evils” of public school. At least in public school, which we were told was “godless,” scandals like that wouldn’t have surprised us. Because it happened under a roof topped with the Cross, it screwed us up in the head! I never could wrap my head around hypocrisy and I still can’t. Yet you remain unbowed.
So here we all are, twenty years later, FUBAR. Oh, I’m sorry, you’re too righteous to know that military abbreviation so I’ll translate it for you: Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition.
Of the couples in my graduating class who met in High School and married, almost all of them are divorced. Well, that’s strange. After all, divorce was taboo! You could blame it on young love not lasting or maybe we tended to marry each other because we were so similar. No one else was screwed up in the head quite like we were. It was like growing up in an isolated insular cult. Of course we married each other! Maybe that similarity is also what tore the couples apart.
Twenty years later, most of the class is on anti-depressants and in therapy. Suffering from anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD. Bent under shame. Riddled with guilt. We just don’t know what we did that was that bad but it had to be something. Take a bow, Mr. Principal. Take a bow!
One thing is for sure: we’re not “Christians” in the same mold as you and the teachers you hired and harbored.
Surprisingly, few of us have turned our back on the faith. We cling to the Cross, but wouldn’t be surprised if we end up in Hell. Meanwhile you thump the Bible and praise the Lord with your head held high. Jesus told a parable, something about the sinner groveling in the corner while the Pharisee flaunts his religiousity on a street corner. Sounds very familiar.
When we, the survivors of your school, worship God it’s in a way that is so brutally honest, so stark, so raw that it doesn’t look much like your version of Christianity.
When we clasp our hands in prayer, our hands and arms are probably tattooed.
When we relax on Friday night, it’s probably with a can of beer or a glass of wine.
The girls’ necklines may be more than three-fingers-width below the collar bone (tsk! tsk!) and the boys’ hair might (horrors!) touch the top of their ears.
And when we worship, it may be with music that has, gasp! an evil beat driven by gasp! one of those evil drum sets.
In other words, we don’t make a show of our Christianity. We don’t holler a loud “Amen” after every sentence in the sermon to demonstrate our righteousness. That’s Pharisee stuff. That’s hypocritical. We knew it as teens. We cast sidelong glances at each other in Chapel as if to say, “What’s our teacher trying to prove with all that Amening anyways?”
We do our worshiping in secret, bent with guilt for…what? Mostly for not being like you, so self-righteous, confident and condescending. You and your merry throng of hypocritical, porn-addicted, wife-beating adulterers. Most of them have moved on to new careers and new institutions, but everybody’s still in the ministry. Gag me with a spoon!
To be fair, there were a few wonderful teachers who lived their Christianity so loudly, they didn’t have to pound the Bible. They didn’t ravage our souls. They wooed us to God with their love and kindness and laughter. We’ll never forget them. There are no bad stories about them. We will love them forever as they loved us.
Well, twenty years have passed now and my graduating class and I are a hot mess. A trainwreck.
But I’d like to think we have something that was never modeled for us at school: Humility and Honesty. (We also know how to use semi-colons properly; thank you for that.)
In that way, we turned out well. But we turned out well not because of you, Mr. Principal, but in spite of you.