Northview defends fund-raiser
By By SHERRY DIGMON
Advance Staff Writer
Northview High School managed to wrest the headlines from the presidential election last Friday.
However, these headlines were anything but welcome at the school. They have, in fact, sent shock waves through the administration and faculty.
Allegations of "selling grades" were met with disbelief. For journalism teacher Vicki Baggett, the lack of opportunity to tell the school's side of the story was just as unsettling.
Last week, a Pensacola newspaper ran three articles on the journalism program at NHS, alleging that fund-raisers and ad sales were tied to grades, and that journalism teacher Vicki Baggett was, in effect, selling grades. The report also questioned the methods of handling meat in a particular fund-raiser – Boston butts cooked by Baggett's father, Bill Gandy.
The charges were leveled by a "disgruntled parent," Baggett said, whose daughter didn't sell all the Boston butts she ordered.
As Baggett explained, students in the journalism department were to pre-sell Boston butts, then place their orders. A particular student ordered nine but apparently had not pre-sold them. She sold one and her mother wrote a check for the rest as well as for ads her daughter was supposed to sell, but didn't, Baggett said.
According to Weaver, the state attorney general received anonymous calls and complaints around Nov. 1. The AG referred them to the superintendent.
And someone did, prompting several articles in the Pensacola paper last week and an editorial on Monday.
The practice of selling ads and participating in fund-raisers is essential to the program, Baggett said. The yearbook and newspaper programs are self-supporting, meaning they get no funds from the school, from the school board or from the state.
The contract reads, "Please understand that journalism classes are PRODUCTION classes and that your grade will be earned through your willingness to produce a quality product ON TIME. If you think that these classes will be easy' grades, then throw this application away. If you are interested in being a part of an exciting, hardworking production class, then you should apply.
This contract is co-signed by the student and parent. In this case, the parent who is upset about the practice signed along with her daughter.
It was reported that the sale of Boston butts accounted for 10 percent of a student's grade.
Baggett said some students are good at selling ads, and some aren't. And some can sell Boston butts, but not ads. When the two are combined, students come out all right grade-wise. In fact, Baggett said she has never failed a student for not selling ads or doing well in fund-raisers.
Weaver said students have to raise so much money because the school has no industry base due to the location.
Students select the fund-raisers they wish to participate in. The sale of Boston butts has always been popular, Baggett said, because they're easy to sell and profitable for the program.
Actually, students decide how profitable the program needs to be. They decide on the contents of the yearbook and the newspaper. They determine how much money must be spent to accomplish what they want to do. Then they set their goals.
Other faculty members already are thinking twice about asking students to participate in fund-raisers, which last year included cookbooks, Boston butts, tickets to an Elton John concert, citrus in conjunction with the FFA and the Miss Cotton Patch Easter pageant.
NHS cheerleader sponsor, Lisa McCall, has not said unequivocally that she will never do a fund-raiser, but expects that parents next year will have to give her a check for uniforms, supplies and trips, possibly as much as $700 or $800.