Dulaney HS flunks their own easy test

November 16, 2007 | Drew Forrester

It’s such an easy test, I can’t believe the people at Dulaney High School got it wrong.

Here’s the test:

In the game of life, what’s more important…

a) family    b) having fun

Evidently, Dulaney HS’s Principal, Athletic Director, Volleyball Coach and Football Coach all peeked at each other’s test when they took it.

They all answered:  b) having fun

Wrong answer.

To bring everyone up to speed, Dulaney HS last week suspended two of their student-athletes for going on a family trip to France during the middle of their respective (volleyball and football) seasons.

The volleyball player, Danielle Parker, was the top performer on her team according to many who follow the Lions. Her brother, Derek Parker, played both offense and defense for the Dulaney football team.

As an aside, not that it really matters in THIS discussion, but the Dulaney volleyball team lost in the state semi-finals last night.  Danielle was reinstated by coach Cary Lyon but did not play in the loss.

OK, so let’s get to the heart of the matter, which is the ass-backwards line of thinking that a young man and young lady who travel to France with their FAMILY should somehow be punished for that by removing them from their high school sports teams.

According to "the story", the family informed everyone involved at Dulaney when the school year started that this trip was on the family docket.  The kids would each only miss three days of school, by the way, in case you were (are) wondering why parents would remove their children from school in order to take a family trip.  Kids with sore throats sometimes miss three days of school, so taking your son or daughter out of school for three days doesn’t seem like a felony to me. 

But what message does Dulaney send when they clearly rank FUN (which is absolutely what high school sports should be all about…nothing more, nothing less) over FAMILY? 

High school sports and the diversion they provide are FUN.  They establish friendships and create good personal habits such as teamwork, dedication and selflessness.  But at their age, with all of life’s issues and hurdles ahead of them, high school athletes should be having FUN, regardless of winning, losing, etc.  If not, the people in charge are doing it wrong.

And, while FUN is important, FAMILY is the most important value a young adult can learn.

Let’s be serious for a second – most teen-age kids don’t exactly relish the opportunity to hang-out with mom and dad, right?  I think it speaks volumes for the character of Danielle and Derek Parker that they’ve been raised to understand the value of spending quality time with the family, no matter if it’s at a Ravens game, a trip to the ice cream store or yes, even France. 

If more parents and their kids spent quality time together like the Parkers, our country would be in much better shape.

It’s one thing if Danielle Parker would have wandered into practice a couple of weeks ago and announced to her coach and team, "Like, wow, me and a bunch of my girlfriends have decided to take a trip to Cabo in mid-November and get our 18th birthday tattoos and chase boys up and down the beach.  Good luck in those playoffs."

She took a FAMILY TRIP.  With her brother.  They’re both outstanding students – and evidently promising young adults (Danielle is headed to the University of Delaware) who shouldn’t have been penalized for wanting to spend time with their family.  Some of the Dulaney parents have wondered aloud why the family planned the trip for November…couldn’t they have taken this trip at a time that didn’t conflict with the sports schedule?  Therein lies the problem.  Sports in high school is just not that important.  Especially when compared to the opportunity that came about for the Parkers to go to France together.  Frankly, going to France with their family was more important than any test, game or dance that either Danielle or Derek Parker could have participated in at Dulaney this week. 

Sure, the teams might have suffered because of their absence during their sojurn to France.  That’s where TEACHING comes in.  Evidently, the Principal and his underlings over there don’t get that part of the deal.  If I’m running the volleyball or football team, I stress to my players how the most important thing in your life isn’t sports, or the score, or whether or not you lead the team in points, or kills, or sacks. — the most important thing in your life is FAMILY. 

What has gone wrong in our country when two kids take a family trip and are punished for it? 

How about this double-standard from Dulaney Principal Pat McCusker, who said this about the situation:  "I don’t really want to discuss it (boy, that’s a good way to teach everyone at your school about conflict-resolution, Pat)…We’re about teaching and learning here (really?  what are you teaching your kids when you penalize them for spending time with their family?)…We’re very blessed to have strong athletic performance" (how about the students, Pat?  shouldn’t you be more concerned about being blessed with the number of strong KIDS that you have instead of being worried about whether or not Dulaney wins a volleyball game?)

Naturally, as the parties did a month ago with the Nick Arminio situation at Perry Hall High School, no one is REALLY allowed to say anything on the record for fear of litigation.  And, when they do say something, it’s usually what’s quickly become our favorite new American phrase anytime we don’t want to accept responsibility for something we’ve done —  "no comment".  Everyone at Dulaney had "no comment" written on their foreheads this week as parents and media tried to figure out why they would do this to the Parker children.

So, congrats to Principal McCusker and everyone else at Dulaney for doing some first-class "teaching and learning" over there.  All you taught your kids with that shameful decision(s) to boot those two from their athletic programs was that winning on the field is more important than winning at home. 

Dulaney failed the test.

I don’t know how.  It’s so easy, even a caveman could have figured it out.

The answer was – and is – (a) — FAMILY is more important than FUN.

It’s obviously that way with the Parker family and they should have been applauded – not punished – for that.