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Justin M. Stoddard

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Gossip’s bad, Umkay?
June 1, 2004 — 6:00 pm

In a move reminiscent of the Great Cultural Revolution of the Proletariat, a High School in Florida has adopted a No Gossip campaign. No word yet on when the Anti-Rightest or Anti-Black Element campaigns will kick off.

As they grouted around the yellow and blue tiles that spelled “No Gossip,” a group of seventh-graders started to gossip.

Teacher Barbara Tkac was not happy. Tkac and her middle school students have been discussing the perils of spreading tales for the past few weeks. But she was not completely surprised.

“Talking about other people is so ingrained in all of us,” Tkac said. “We have to relearn patterns of speaking.”

What a classmate said or wore or did is rich fodder for chatter in any school, but during the past few months the teenage grapevine at St. Joseph’s Episcopal School had become particularly venal. In a questionnaire that surveyed St. Joseph’s strengths and weaknesses, students said the unchecked culture of gossip was one of the school’s major flaws. To combat the malicious talk, seventh-graders spent the past month on a “No Gossip Campaign,” sharing the message, through posters and plays, that students should think before they speak and speak up when they hear others blab.

Sixth-grader Elisabeth Hykle said she was one of the school’s gossipers. She used to easily call her fellow students “snobs” or “mean” or “annoying.” But she said she has reformed.

“I hadn’t thought about it much before,” she said. “I didn’t think it was bad.”

Well, a little agitprop never hurt nobody is my philosophy.


— Justin M. StoddardComments (0)

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