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A Trip Down Memory Lane

The things we remember…

When I was in sixth grade at Charles W. Lewis Middle School in New Jersey, my English teacher gave the class an assignment for all of us to write a letter to the editor of the Courier Post. My letter was about the poor quality of the food served in the school cafeteria.

Unfortunately, my letter never made it to the newspaper.

It did, however, earn me a trip to the principal’s office. The principal, like the teacher before him, tried to reason with me to reconsider sending such a negative letter to the press and asked that I write a more appropriate letter for publication. I didn’t agree to write another letter, but I did finally agree not to submit my original letter based on the the principal’s promise to work to remedy the food situation in the cafeteria.

The situation did not improve and before long we middle schoolers rebelled and refused to buy the school lunch. I don’t remember how, but after a few days, the press got word of the situation, and we actually had TV crews show up to cover the story. I’ve always regretted allowing myself to be talked out of sending that letter.

Ok, why this trip down memory lane? Well…

It seems the students at Readington Middle School (RMS) in Hunterdon County aren’t happy with the short amount of time they get for lunch every day. So in the finest American tradition – think “Boston Tea Party” – some of them came up with a novel way to protest the perceived injustice.

“Some 29 seventh- and eighth-graders at the school banded together during last Thursday’s 30-minute lunch period and paid for their $2 lunches with pennies,” reports the New Jersey Star-Ledger this morning. “That amounted to 5,800 individual, or 32 pounds, of pennies.”

Over 5,000 pennies weighing in at 32 pounds? God bless those kids! Just when you think the American revolutionary spirit of resistance is dead and gone, along they come to renew our hopes. Now for the rest of the story…

In a response worthy of King George himself, school administrators – that would be PUBLIC school administrators – “called using the coins a sign of disrespect to cafeteria personnel and fellow students, and punished the ‘Readington 29’ with two days of detention.”

Thanks to Chuck Muth for the trip down memory lane. It’s bizarre that almost thirty years later NJ public school administrators are still trying to squash students’ freedom of speech. Not to mention the fact that the school food situation is still not much better: