As students prepare to return to Newton South after February break, the administration is rushing to ready the school’s pillories after interim principal Brenda Keegan’s decision to use them to enforce the truancy and parking policies. This will be the first time the pillories have been used since the school was called Ye Olde Newtowne Southe Schoole.
Keegan defended the move to reinstate such an archaic method of punishment, saying that “in light of the widespread parking violations and absences from class, we must turn to the proven and reliable methods of the past.”
Just a month ago, Keegan initiated a plan to reduce class sizes by encouraging skipping, but did not realize just how much smaller classes would be. “My room was completely empty during those two weeks,” said David Deutsch, a math teacher. “I know I give my students some pretty tough problems, but I thought at least a few would still come to class.”
“The school was like a ghost town,” said senior Miriam Leshin. “I started wondering where everyone could have gone.” Even with the extra workers, Anna’s Taqueria was initially unable to cope with the flood of customers, and was forced to order an emergency shipment of tortillas.
Under the new system, students who violate parking rules or are absent from class will be locked in a pillory in the cafeteria, where the staff will provide an assortment of leftover fruits and vegetables suitable for throwing. Many students are thrilled by the prospect of flinging bits of rotting vegetable matter at their peers.
“I’m not so sure about this whole going to class deal,” said Sam Carus, a senior who has already been admitted to college. “It’s great that I can throw tomatoes at those juniors who are always stealing my parking spot, but I don’t want them to be able to throw stuff at me just because I’m done learning for the year.” The custodial staff is also not happy with the new punishments, which generate a great deal of debris that they will have to clean up.
Parents’ reactions are likewise mixed. One group of parents has formed an organization named Parents Against Flinging Fruit to fight what they see as cruel and unusual punishment, while another group believes that pillories build character. “Being locked up in an uncomfortable position in the center of a cafeteria filled with hundreds of people throwing food at you is exactly the kind of thing that builds strong teenagers for a stronger tomorrow,” said one parent who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I bet my son would benefit from an experience like that.”