I was reminded of a childhood friend earlier this week when three high school administrators called in to cancel their subscriptions to the local newspaper. The unhappy subscribers expressed their displeasure in our publishing a story about the high school co-valedictorian who wasn't allowed to participate in commencement exercises last week.
My old childhood buddy, Mondo, used to show up at Toppenish's Lincoln Park to join the neighborhood kids in the game of the day. It was either football, basketball or baseball, depending on the seasons that were at hand. It wasn't uncommon for Mondo, after several hours of good, clean fun, to blow up over a foul called by an opposing basketball player or to come unglued if the umpire of the day signaled him out on a slide at home.
Mondo would puff up, argue vehemently and then grab his gear and head home. Unfortunately for the rest of us, he often had the newer basketball that still had plenty of bounce in it or the baseball on which you still could read the manufacturer's name. We were usually left with a basketball that you could easily palm because the air was slowly seeping out of it or with a baseball that didn't have all its stitches.
It mattered little to Mondo when he headed home from the park that he had just enjoyed a couple of hours with boyhood friends, or that he was about to miss out on a couple more hours of fun. The one incident, the foul he was sure that wasn't committed or the play where he felt he slid under the catcher's glove, was enough for him to grab his ball and call it quits.
The three unhappy subscribers are much like Mondo. It's of no consequence to them that they've used the Daily Sun News extensively in the past to highlight and showcase the activities their students have been involved in, or have called regularly to get a story in to help promote an event in which they're involved. Like Mondo, who missed out on the rest of the fun when he departed for home with ball in hand, the former subscribers aren't going to be able to enjoy the one publication that features more local stories about the Lower Yakima Valley than any other newspaper comes close to printing.
I'd love it if each and every story I chose to run on our pages made all of our readers feel fuzzy and warm inside. But that's impossible.
In this instance, I deemed it newsworthy when the co-valedictorian was banned from the graduation ceremony, an Eagle Scout and arguably the most intelligent kid to have ever graduated from Sunnyside High School based on his grade point average of 4.439. I would have preferred that the high school administration gave its side of the story, but those officials chose to stay mum. Hence, the story was told from the co-valedictorian's accounting of the whole mess.
For the most part, I've shunned and stayed away from the negative stories about our local high school brought to me by concerned citizens. It wasn't that long ago when a group of graduating seniors trashed property at the school, including an expensive sound system if memory serves me correctly, but were allowed to walk during the commencement exercise. I also chose not to report on the story brought to me earlier this spring by a mother, after her daughter was involved in an auto accident in the school parking lot, who learned that school officials weren't enforcing the parking sticker rule that requires each and every motorist there to have a driver's license and liability insurance. Despite repeated phone calls I've received about the dress code not being enforced at the high school, rightly so based on the cleavage I've witnessed from our young "ladies" there, I haven't had any reporter pursue those news tips, either.
The point I'm making is that some stories that may be viewed as negative can be overlooked.
Among our aims and goals here at the Daily Sun News is to seek out stories that showcase the assets and attributes of our community. I believe we do that pretty well.
But there are stories that come along which can't be ignored. Such was the case with the SHS co-valedictorian.
I'm just hoping a lot of our readers aren't going to grab their ball and head for home.