Students learning tough lessons

As another school year draws to a close, students and teachers probably aren’t the only ones who are breathing a sigh of relief. School officials have to be pretty happy about it, too.

Especially school officials in North Carolina.

In Trinity, N.C., graduating seniors were invited to bring props when posing for their yearbook photos. Some brought musical instruments. Others brought sports equipment. Seventeen-year-old Caitlin Tiller brought her 1-year-old baby.

And in Johnston, N.C., last weekend, 18-year-old David “Cole” Withrow brought his shotgun to school.

Caitlin’s photo was banned from the yearbook. David was banned from school. And in both cases, school officials are taking heat for their rulings.

“He helped me get where I am today,” Caitlin, said about her baby. After giving birth, she said in an interview with a local television station, she worked harder in school, graduated early and began taking college classes.

“She took responsibility,” Caitlin’s mother said. “They should be proud that the students are willing to stay in school, graduate and make something of themselves and not try and hide it.”

School officials saw it differently, saying the photo should be deleted because it might “promote teen pregnancy.”

David Withrow didn’t need a baby to help get him where he was. He was an Eagle Scout set to graduate with honors and already had received a college scholarship.

But that was before he drove to school on a Monday morning, forgetting that the shotgun he had used for skeet shooting that weekend still was in the back of his pickup truck. To avoid being late for class, he called his mom to come get the gun, a conversation that was overheard and reported to school officials.

Now he has a court date next week on a felony charge, he has to finish his final semester at an alternative school, he will not be able to graduate with his classmates and his college plans are unclear.

School officials say their actions are mandated by the state legislature, but a lot of people in the community, reportedly, are outraged.

“Everyone makes a mistake, he tried to do the right thing by it and it’s upsetting,” a fellow student declared.

Some are particularly outraged because the assistant principal at David’s school brought a gun to school in 2011 and received only a three-day suspension.

For both Caitlin and David, it’s been a tough conclusion to their high school careers and I’m sure they’re looking forward to summer vacation.

But not nearly as much as those school officials, who must be wondering whatever happened to the days when their toughest decisions involved how to deal with miscreants caught chewing gum or smoking in the boys’ room.

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