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Your Views: GHS controversy an insult to what students achieved

POSTED: February 28, 2012 1:00 a.m.

I am perturbed to say the least of it. The issue of Cody Stephens and the decision for co-valedictorian is a asinine debate. Moreover, calling it a racial issue is a mockery to the proponents of civil rights.

Here we have two young men who have achieved so much and deserve the accolades entitled to them. Sharing the prestige of such an opportunity speaks volumes about these two students' endeavors and the school in which they received their education.

The absurdity of insinuating that Principal Chris Mance's decision for co-valedictorians was racially motivated and that he should be dismissed is atrocious. This is a daring and morally astute move on his part that not only deserves recognition but recompense and certainly not the adversity he has faced.

However, adversity is what we're looking at and it leaves a sour taste. We know little of the other student but what we know about Cody Stephens is a fair shake. Not only has he received the nod for co-valedictorian, he has also received a full scholarship from one of the southeast's most distinguished schools, Emory University. Not something too easily attained, I'm sure.

It's my opinion that without the support of Mance, Cody's teachers and other school staff, he may not have had the same opportunities nor any other student for that matter. But the thing that really sticks in my craw, is that after all he has accomplished, it's still not enough for his mother. She is dragging her son's achievements through the muck in the name of justice and integrity.

This is a time for these two students to be proud of their accomplishments, to look to the future with promise and confidence. But it has been tarnished and made shameful for them. Cody has even stated that this issue is distracting him from his academic pursuits and wishes it to be done with. There's no telling what the other student and his family are experiencing.

My advice to Mrs. Stephens and the other overzealous supporters is to realize that this is all about Cody and his and the other student's accomplishments. This is their time, not yours to impinge on with accusations of spurious bigotry; it's cretinous and self-serving.

There is not one precedent indicating racial prejudice in Mance's decision to name two students as valedictorian. The recognition of valedictorian has nothing to do with race or creed; it as an honor bestowed to "students" who have achieved and overachieved for the sake of their future.

However, if I'm wrong, you are simply stating that no matter the process of determining a valedictorian, your son should be granted that honor solely on the notion that he may or may not be the first African-American valedictorian at Gainesville High, not on his achievements. Well, that sounds a little bigoted for my tastes altogether, and if justice and integrity are your driving forces for this debacle of good taste, then release your son's grades for the school board to make an educated decision.

Shawn David Cozad
Gainesville



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