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« on: March 19, 2006, 08:22:41 AM »


Says Board of Trustees and Best Citizens Support Him – Shoots Rifle Over Head Of Crowd In Front Of Home

(Special To The Free Press)

FAIRFAX – June 14, 1925 – The little town of Fairfax is all astir over the incidents and trouble which is alleged to have started last March reaching its climas at the commencement exercises Wednesday evening.

From what information a Free Press representative can secure it is quite clear that there are two sides to the story.  In Thursday morning’s issue the Free Press printed one side, a version of some of the members of the graduating class corroborated by the wife of one of the trustees of the school.

In Saturday’s issue the version of Miss Katherine Katz of Burlington and member of the faculty, was printed.

Now Joseph H. Wright, principal of the academy, in his story of existing conditions, takes exceptions to reports by students which were printed in several newspapers by declaring this reports to be notable for their “perversion of facts.”  Mr. Wright declares that in his attitude he has been supported by the board of trustees and has, he believes, the support of the best citizens of the town.

While there has been some talk in Fairfax that the offices of State’s Attorney H. G. Leavens would be invoked in the troubles arising out of the internal administration and discipline at Bellows Free Academy, Mr. Leavens told a Free Press representative today that the matter had not been called to his official attention.

Principal Wright in his stand asserts that the faculty has stood by him loyally and he points out that two members of the faculty, who had intended to come back to the school next year have now submitted their resignations, as a result of which the academy will have an entirely new faculty next fall.  Mr. Wright is going to Enosburg Falls.

Principal Wright makes the following statement regarding the situation:

“First – The senior class, dissenting among themselves as to various commencement activities, were directed to report to the principal before a specified time.  If they, individually, wished to participate in the commencement activities.  Nine of the ten members so reported and eventually went through the program of the week.  The tenth, Miss Ballard, did not report and hence was not included in the week’s program.  Miss Ballard ranked fifth and not first in scholarship.

“Second – The Community Orchestra was hired for class day and the commencement exercises.  Miss Ballard, as pianist of the orchestra, was present and played with the orchestra.”

“Third – No diplomas were signed by the principal and the class had been definitely informed that they would not be signed until a satisfactory completion of the week’s work.”

“Fourth – No seniors left school.  Six juniors left school in March.  Two returned on their own volition the following Monday, the other four, having been suspended, returned some weeks later.  At a meeting of the board of trustees with Commissioner Dempsey acting as chairman, to hear complaints against the principal, the board sustained the action of the principal.”

“Fifth – The demonstration Wednesday night has led to two members of the High School faculty, who had signed contracts to return next year to request their release.  At the suggestion of some members of the board, with the consent of the writers, copies of the resignations are appended.”

They are as follows:

“To the Trustees of Bellows Free Academy:

“Dear Sirs:

“I wish to resign as teacher at Bellows Free Academy because of the attitude of a group of people toward the faculty and because of the lack of cooperation with the faculty of this group, “I believe that even though conditions might be partly forgotten by the beginning of the next school year, there would be the need of constantly guarding against any cases of discipline or the like and I do not feel capable of teaching in such a strained atmosphere.  “Sincerely,  LILLIAN E. PARK – June 11, 1925.

“To the Trustees of Bellows Free Academy:

“Dear Sirs:

“I wish to resign my position as a teacher in Bellows Free Academy because I cannot work in a community where a small group of people are determined to oppose and destroy school discipline.  I feel that the demonstration on graduation night indicates that problems of school discipline are to be settled by this group by displaying force, trying to intimidate the faculty and by course insults.

“And so I feel that in such atmosphere and opposed by such a group, I cannot do my best work.
“Sincerely yours,

Mr. Wright states that one day the past week he found tacks strewn on the floor of his garage.  Following the graduation exercises Wednesday night a crowd gathered in front of the principal’s house and made it a target for eggs.  At a late hour, Mr. Wright says he discharged a small caliber rifle over the heads of the crowd in order to disperse it.  He stated that he felt justified in this action in view of the egg throwing.


Henry Raymond
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