A-L graduates advised

Allegany-Limestone High School class of 2020 commencement speaker Matthew Bouch advises the graduates to guard their freedom of speech.

As family members, we were a part of the Friday night graduation ceremony for Allegany-Limestone High School’s Class of 2020. We thought that Chicago Police Detective Matt Bouch gave one of the best commencement speeches we have ever heard.

He was relevant, engaging, encouraging and forthcoming about this country’s current state of affairs.

And, yet, class graduates were emailed an “apology“ from Superintendent Tony Giannicchi and the Board of Education for Det. Bouch’s convocation, saying that he failed in making sure he had “appropriate messaging.”

Well, please tell me this, what message did the detective give that was not “appropriate “? Was it inappropriate to talk about his experiences and time in public service? Was it “inappropriate” to question the “media’s integrity”? Was it inappropriate to encourage young people to form their own beliefs and values and not assume those of others?

If Allegany-Limestone’s core beliefs include that “learning occurs best in a safe environment, that respects the individual, values different perspectives and encourages effort,” then why aren’t you thanking Det. Bouch for providing a “safe environment” for our community for the past 18 years of public service? Why do you not VALUE Det. Bouch’s perspectives?

It appears that anyone who doesn’t align with you cannot have a valid message to our future leaders. Why are you not reflecting your own values and thanking the commencement speaker for his own efforts in giving his time and dedicating his life to serving and protecting our country?

If there is an apology for the past few days, it should be to the detective for your email which insinuated that he needed better “background checks” and “censoring” about the message he intended to share. I’m quite embarrassed for the district after reading that offensive and politically-motivated email.

This is a country of free speech, free thinking and a place where individuals are free to construct their own opinions, beliefs and values based on encouraging “critical thinking,” and not taking a biased opinion given as factual evidence. Unfortunately, our country is heavily influenced by social media and news outlets, which, unfortunately, all carry emotion and opinion rather than factual, research-based journalism.

People push their own agendas and set of values they wish to instill upon their audience. This is a very important fact that the graduates should be reminded of.

So, I was impressed that the 2020 graduates were given a taste of the truth at their commencement. Unfortunately, school officials felt it necessary to take away that truth with biased views.

If there was anything divisive about this, it is their response to the message. They made this about the school administration when it should have been about the graduates entering a world of choice.

Kudos to the man who works in the line of fire, who made a choice to dedicate his life to saving others. What an inspiring message, one that the school administration should have heard.

Another missed opportunity to unite instead of divide.

(Dr. Kristen M. Steely is a wellness consultant and chiropractic physician in Anderson, South Carolina.)

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