Payson High School Banners Boost Spirits? Inclusive or Noninclusive?

(It was unintended on my part to make this into a “race” issue. I have edited out any references to race. My focal point is inclusion of all students in spirit related activities.)

As a previous teacher and administrator of Payson High School, a parent of two PHS graduates, the sibling of four PHS graduates, and a resident and taxpayer I have read with great interest about happenings in and around Payson High School.

Recently a local dentist wrote a guest editorial about a “new” spirit at Payson High School and tied it into voting for an override.  In describing the crowd at the first home football game he writes: “I have never in my 19 years of residence in Payson seen anything like it and I pity the next team the Longhorns meet at home and I can’t wait to see it.”

First of all is it quite possible that he missed many of these types of events in his 19 years of residency because he didn’t attend football games?  During his 19 years, PHS won two state football championships (1998 and 2008) and I can guarantee you that the fever at football games was no less then what he describes. The 2008 Championship game is arguably the most exciting 3A Championship Game of all time and attendance was incredible. During the 2008 football season, football gate receipts were at an all time high and helped provide funding for many of the other teams. I did get a laugh on this comment, “I pity the next team the Longhorns meet at home”. Really?

There is nothing wrong with the enthusiasm to pass an override. One can offer up support without the hyperbole.

As I transition, the dentist’s letter proclaims extracurricular’s are in trouble without an override and how money is tight. Read on. There might be more trouble on the horizon.

Next up the Payson Roundup proclaims: “Banners Boost Spirits”. The article includes the picture below of some football player.

BannersSeriously? I just shake my head and wonder. First and foremost, there is nothing wrong with promoting school spirit and using nice banners to help build spirit and belonging but somebody messed up. “…..the idea for the banners came from other high schools, such as Show Low, that have banners leading up to their school.” What? I was in Show Low last Friday officiating and I saw banners but I did not see a single banner with a gigantic photo of any athlete. I saw the Show Low High School banners and they appeared to be promoting Show Low High School Cougars.

“Spark the Future”. The only things I could find on sparking the future is a website to end homelessness for teenagers. And in the state of Washington they have a whole program on “sparking the future” that is designed for students who are the first in their family to attend college. I’m uncertain what the PHS saying means.

If Payson High School wants to promote inclusion in the student body and a sense of belonging plus build an inclusive environment for learning, they would place banners promoting Payson High School and its programs.

A divide occurs as students become jealous, envious, and feel excluded because they are left out. It is a natural feeling and could have and should have been avoided. When a district is promoting a tax override because they do not have necessary funds to support extracurricular activities, but have the “teams” pay for glossy banners that can’t be cheap, then there is clearly a disconnect between the district and voters.

In referencing the alienated students, a high school student, Cody Rislund wrote a stirring letter to the editor. I don’t know Cody but he clearly is articulate and is passionate about the noninclusive banners. I did find a picture of him in the Payson Roundup and he appears to be quite active in school. So search the Roundup and read about his talents.

Cody nailed how other students may feel so just maybe school spirit has suffered due to a noninclusive attitude that has left other students and athletes on the sidelines.

Cody’s comments include: “First off, the town and school are passing this off as support for our school. The only thing this supports are the teams and a select few players at that. What happened to the other players on the team? Are they simply not a part of the success of these teams?” He is spot on.

He argues that a Longhorn should have been the focus of these expensive glossy banners and I concur. That would have gone a long way to build an inclusive, supportive, highly spirited campus.

This is Cody’s conclusion: “I don’t understand why the supporters didn’t just make a simple banner with our Longhorn on it. The football, volleyball and cheer teams aren’t the only things that make this school amazing. It takes every single member of every single team and every single club and every single organization to successfully call our school, Payson High School.” I could not agree more. That is an inclusive attitude.

What a brave young man to express his opinion. I sure hope he doesn’t get retribution because of his views. Thanks Cody, you have “sparked” my interest by standing up for what you believe.

About timfruth

Longtime public educator who retired. Love the outdoors and rapidly adjusting to a new me.
This entry was posted in Education, Football, High School Football, Payson, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Payson High School Banners Boost Spirits? Inclusive or Noninclusive?

  1. Jason Sweeney says:

    “So what do I see when I look at the banners? I see a whole bunch of good looking white kids on a glossy advertisement looking banner that is promoting individualism. I have no idea who the athletes are that are prominently placed on the “banners”. I see no other cultures or any person of color represented on the banners. For me it increases the stereotyping of Payson as an all white non-inclusive community.” Please drive by slowly and look closer. Not sure why you have tried to make this into a racial issue?? It is obvious that you do not know the student athletes or you would have known that they are not all white kids. Please note State Championships are not given to every one. All Conference, All State honors are not giving to a select number of white, black or any other color YOU would like represented. These honors are selected by “individual” accomplishments.
    Jason Sweeney

    • timfruth says:

      I appreciate your comments Jason. That was not my intent. I am only interested in making people think. Agree or disagree is not as important as thinking. I am sensitive to inclusion due to my days of working with special needs students. Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. Thomas W. says:

    I personally know Cody, have for almost 10 years. He is very passionate about our school. When I 1st told him about the banners he felt the same way I did. PHS has a lot to offer and the town should know it.

  3. Robin Weaver says:

    Just wondering why everyone just can’t be happy about the banners and thankful for the idea. Someone was thinking outside the box. Which doesn’t mean you can’t add your ideas for next year or for future Payson High school students. But no need to bring something good down just because you don’t agree with every aspect of the prior decisions that were made to start something new. Please think about how the students that are on the banners must feel about adults controversy comments. Our children work hard and deserve to be recognized. Let’s lift them up, not bring them down.

    • timfruth says:

      Good point Robin. That was not my idea. I think banners and school spirit are great but they should be more inclusive. I have no idea who the young people are and they may be the greatest kids in the world. So I sure am not anti them. As I said before, I gained interest after reading a PHS student’s letter to the editor about feeling excluded and evidently many felt excluded. I was writing to support him more than anything since I knew he could face retribution. I always love an underdog.I will say that many children work hard and deserve recognition and deserve recognition. Not just a few. Anyhow your point is well taken.

  4. Stacey Foote says:

    If the school was going to do that, they should have included the band seniors, FFA seniors, drama seniors, etc… I think it is making a statement that traditional athletic programs are more important than other activities. I do not agree. We should help our students realize that any chosen individual contribution to the whole school is valued and important. As adults we are responsible to show our kids that life is about contributing to an organization and a whole, that no other program or entity is more important than the other. What kink of message are we sending when we single out a select few high profile sports?

  5. Emma Creighton says:

    Honestly I’ve never seen so many students try to make our school better and more involved! This year’s STUGO students have been trying their absolute hardest to get as many students to be more involved with supporting school sports and clubs. I know that the banners are just individuals, but it’s a step. It may look like football, volleyball, and cheer are the only sports that are important at Payson High School, but it’s not like that. For example, band and theatre. Every morning I see our band students practicing as hard as they can and it really shows at our football games! As for theatre, I have been to one of their plays and it proves how much hard work they put into their performances! Our school is a lot more capable then what you think. You’re going to judge us by what we put on a banner? That is where I disagree with your article. Yes there should have been more thought towards who would be hurt by the banners, but we’re trying to prove to people that we’re not a type of high school that just trys to get everyone to graduate. We want to make it the best highschool experience they could ever ask for. Payson High School is turning out for the better, because of a group of students that wanted a change.

    • timfruth says:

      Good thoughts Emma. I think it vital to be involved in school and school activities. Thanks for sharing your point. I would just remind those who are make important decisions concerning students and activities to be inclusive of all students. I appreciate honest and open discourse. Isn’t it great that we live in a country where one can express their opinions freely? Keep on keeping on!

      • Emma Creighton says:

        Those individuals are on those banners because they earned it. Shouldn’t we appreciate those who work hard? We’re trying to get other clubs up there, but volleyball, cheer, and football are just up there for this season. We should be getting compliments for trying to get our school out there. Not being judged by what the banners may look like in your opinion.

      • timfruth says:

        The nice thing is you don’t have to read my blog and you don’t have to agree. The idea that certain individuals “earned it” and others did not “earn it” reeks of a social elite attitude. There are those who are entitled to prominence and others who just didn’t earn their spot. Wow, I can’t believe I just wrote that.

        I will refer back to Cody Rislund’s statement: “I don’t understand why the supporters didn’t just make a simple banner with our Longhorn on it. The football, volleyball and cheer teams aren’t the only things that make this school amazing. It takes every single member of every single team and every single club and every single organization to successfully call our school, Payson High School.”

    • Paysonmason says:

      You didnt mention education? Thats the most important part of high school experiences. Put someone up there, with a 4.2 GPA. My kids play sports, the banners could have been more thought of. It is a step, and I love your passion for the school. Again education is slipping away. If you think about it, theres one group of kids that excel everyday, more challenged than any other, special needs.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Okay, so when the Athletic Department of Payson High School puts together something that recognizes students of the athletic field, suddenly, the whole rest of the school is “excluded.” However, when the drama department puts together a play for three nights, a lot of the teachers give extra credit to go, you don’t get extra credit to go to athletic games, do you? No, but when that happens, the athletic students don’t go complain and whine like little kids about being excluded and everything is “unfair,” the teams chose who went up on those banners and the teams paid for their own banners. Can’t someone put something together without a huge argument anymore?

    • timfruth says:

      I usually don’t approve anonymous posts but since you have a point of view that is not offensive and is valid and I will assume you are a high school student who also doesn’t need to have somebody on your case because of your opinion, I will go ahead and post it.

      Another FYI, I didn’t perceive the banners as simply an us vs them issue. I tend to believe that banners are a good thing but should be more team oriented and not individualized. That is my opinion. Just because we have differing opinions does not mean I do not support the idea. I just think it should have been thought a bit more to be more “team” and less individual. I will say it again, I have no idea who is on the banners and I really don’t care who is on the banners. I simply believe they should be team based. When I went to Green Bay, they had all kinds of Packer banners. The only individuals pictures on any of the banners were those of their Hall of Fame players. The rest were all team oriented. I know that is NFL but still team based banners.

      The Show Low banners that are around the poles at their school have nothing but Show Low Cougars with a big paw print on them. Just my opinion, but I think that is more inclusive. Anyhow, thanks for your comments and congrats on your Friday night win. BTW, I don’t believe in extra credit to attend events is right, so I sure support you on that. That is watering down the academic experience by handing out extra credit for just showing up. Seems a bit silly to me as well.

  7. Dave y says:

    To be honest you should take down this artical and right a new one apologizing ok? Thanks! You say you weren’t trying to make it a “race issue” but you did. So what if there’s an athlete and he’s white who cares racism ended As long time ago so Therefore take it down! Thank you

    • timfruth says:

      Another anonymous comment I will allow through. My blog, my thoughts, and my written support for another student who I thought had some good points on exclusion. No one has to read my writings. Even though you did not identify yourself, I will still allow your comments to stay.
      P.S. I am happy to know that racism has ended a long time ago.

  8. Jackie says:

    I believe the intent was good for the banners, but I also believe the reason for the kids pictures on the banners was the idea of a parent, who was in charge of this, that wanted his son’s face posted across the banners. Yes, he is on the individual and on the large one on press box. The soccer team was asked to be part of this, but they said NO. They were a team and didn’t want to promote any of their players over another. Instead, the soccer team is having a banner made with the ENTIRE team on it to promote their sport.

    • timfruth says:

      I have tried to make it clear that I am not anti-banner, but believe that banners should emphasize team over individuals. That is a much better way to promote and increase overall spirit. Thanks for clarifying what others have told me behind the scenes and off the record. My focus is inclusion and you gave a good example of an inclusive practice.

  9. Jackie says:

    Tim, I didn’t see your statements as anti-banners…I just wanted to give my perspective : )

  10. Frank Larby says:

    I drove down Longhorn on November 15th (haven’t been back all summer/fall) and saw the banners. The concept of promoting PHS on the whole is great. Like other readers I wondered why other programs were not highlighted? PHS has long had a tremendous wrestling program, a first rate FFA program, an ambitious drama program and a solid music program. Inclusion of academics and CTE programs along with all sports would make the program more effective.

  11. Cody Rislund says:

    I know that this entire issue happened almost a year ago but I still fell like I made a couple of things unclear.
    First, I had no grudge, jealousy, hatred or anything remotely along those lines when it came to the sports teams or the individual people on there banners. The sports teams did fantastic last year and I saw nothing but smiles and encouragement when it came to the players around campus.
    Secondly, I have nothing against spirit boosters around our high school campus such as the banners. I think that the overall idea was fantastic, but it was just executed incorrectly. I still feel as though they should have shown our school logo on the banners instead, but I’ll stop beating a dead horse.
    And just a couple more things, I brought up the PHS drama several times throughout my article and the only reason for this was because I was heavily involved in the department for seven years, so it was easy for me to get accurate information. However, I was still attempting to speak for the entirety of the school.
    Later on in the year, I want to say in November, the coach of the football team approached me with a smile on his face and a newspaper in hand and began talking about my article. He explained that the football players on the banners were a part of some type of program where they had to show up to 80% of practices and keep somewhere around a 2.0-3.0 GPA (It was a while ago so I can’t quite remember).
    With a slightly patronizing tone, he then told me that every organization was contacted about the banners and asked if they wanted to buy there own banner. I asked around later and turns out, almost all other organizations weren’t contacted at all. I told the coach this and he then promised me that for the next round of banners, he would contact everyone and offer, again. He never did and a new round of banners with select basketball players were put up.

    Now I know it seems like I’m just bashing the coach, but I really don’t mean to. It was an extremely nice thing of him to do to go out of his way and find me and try to explain the whole situation to me, and I have nothing but respect for the man. I also know that this whole argument may seem long gone and irrelevant to everyone, including myself, but with the new school year quickly getting into gear, they may decide to repeat the same mistake with the banners again. I love everyone at the high school, and I don’t want a single person to be misrepresented.

    Thank you, for supporting me Tim. It really meant a lot to me.

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