Letters to the Editor

NORTHGATE TRADITION DISCARDED

Editor:

Northgate had a fine tradition of letting their alumni return in the summer and use their facilities to train for their particular collegiate sport. It was an unsupervised honor system that worked well. I know this personally from having coached at Northgate for 10 years. But this tradition was brought to an end by a rookie janitor. Let me explain:

At some point during the second half of this recent school year the Northgate administration and/or school board began to implement a policy that various parts of the high school, including the gym and weight room, could not be used unless they were supervised by a staff member. However, before the school year was over, school board member Dave Natalie rescinded the policy, saying that he wanted the various facilities, including the weight room, to be made available to the youth of the district. Principal/athletic director Brian Kyle concurred with the change in policy. The gym and weight room were reopened. The custodial staff knew of this change.

Upon graduating this spring, my son and two of this former teammates continued to use the weight room. All three are members of the National Honor Society. Two of the young men were fortunate enough to have been recruited to play football at Westminster College. The high school principal and vice principal knew and witnessed these young men using the weight room, as did several faculty members. Everything was fine.

However, on July 17, janitor Andy King, who has worked for the district less than one year, had my son and his teammate thrown out of the weight room, telling them that his bosses said they weren’t allowed in the weight room without an adult. (The young men are 18 and 19 years old.) The irony is that 20 days prior to this incident, on June 27 at a birthday party, Andy King told people that if he had his way no kids would be using the weight room. The day that Mr. King closed the weight room, the principal/athletic director was away from the building taking a course.

I spoke that same day with the district superintendent. Dr. Bonfield indicated that it was not he who had the young men removed. Dr. Bonfield added that apparently the district over the years had turned its head to young people using the facilities unsupervised, but now it would have to look into it because of liability. I offered to supervise, but was told that I wouldn’t qualify since I no longer coached there.

I spoke with Andy King, and asked him why he threw my son and his friend out of the weight room. Mr. King replied that the administration didn’t want kids using the weight room without adult supervision. Andy King was then asked who in the administration wanted the weight room closed. After a long pause, Mr. King named Marilynn Berner (business manager) as the person who wanted the weight room shut down. Later in my meeting with Mr. King, I again asked him who in the administration didn’t want young people using the weight room. This time Mr. King stated that he didn’t want to name those people. Mr. King told me that he was tired of “catching sh-- because of kids running around the school and throwing trash.” Mr. King acknowledged that my son and his friends had not done that. I spoke with a co-worker of Andy King who indicated that Mr. King had often commented about all these kids being at the high school, that it was summer and that they didn’t need to be there.

It should be noted that the vast majority of the free weights and weight equipment in the Northgate weight room has been purchased over the years by money raised by the young people who participated in either jr. high and/or varsity football, including my son and his two friends.

Just recently I have been told that if I can find a faculty member that would supervise the weight room, that my son and his friends can use the weight room. The question is, how do you find a faculty member in the middle of summer and without compensation.

Lawrence Miller
Bellevue

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