What was Justin Denney thinking ?
Mr. Denney’s actions risked the lives of his fellow students, as well as everyone attending the Bonny Eagle High School (Standish, Maine) graduation last Friday at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine.
What dastardly deed is this graduating senior guilty of ? Did he bring a loaded gun to the graduation? No. Did he call in a bomb scare, or set off a smoke bomb in the Civic Center? No. Did he pull the fire alarm just as the graduation ceremonies were about to begin? No. Did he release a box full of mice during the pledge of allegiance? No. Mr. Denney is guilty of a much more sinister offense.
Mr. Denney’s crime involved taking a bow and blowing a kiss to his mother, as he went up to receive his diploma, which is apparently a capital offense in the State of Maine. For the depraved indifference to human life that Mr. Denney demonstrated by blowing a kiss to his mother, Schools Superintendent Suzanne Lukas ordered Mr. Denney back to his seat, and he was denied his diploma (see “Blow a kiss, lose your diploma” at examiner.com, where Dr. Todd Berntson describes the conduct of the Maine school superintendent involved as bizarre, absurd, disturbing, insensitive and hostile). We shudder to think what sort of draconian punishment might be imposed on a student who is foolish enough to actually do something bad in this school district from hell.
We can picture Justin Denney sitting in a prison cell full of murderers, felons and hardened criminals. One of the inmates asks the others what landed them in prison. One fellow says he killed three people. The next guy says he robbed a bank. Another says that he shot a cop. Then Justin says “I blew a kiss to my mommy”. The other inmates move away from Justin, fearing for their lives. Justin Denney becomes known as “that Bonny Eagle dude” that you don’t want to mess with.
Good call, Ms. Lukas. God only knows what might have happened if other students copied Mr. Denney’s reckless and depraved behavior. You could have had every kid there blowing kisses to their parents. Pandemonium would have ensued. Lives might have been lost. Fortunately, your quick action prevented a disaster.
We feel that Mr. Denney was way too well behaved, considering the circumstances. If Ms. Lukas had told US to return to our seat without receiving our diploma, we would have flatly refused to move an inch until the diploma was awarded. Let them have their goons drag us off the stage if they wish (we would be screaming “I earned that diploma” and “Don’t tase me, bro” as they dragged us away). The bigger the spectacle, the better, since there was a civic center full of witnesses who would have been horrified. Video would have shown up on youtube faster than you can say “Suzanne Lukas”. Actually, this story has shown up on youtube !
Those who meekly submit to tyrants empower them. To Mr. Denney’s credit, when asked by Ms. Lukas why he should receive his diploma, he did not hesitate to tell her why he deserved it.
How would Ms. Lukas have felt if, let’s say, she was denied her diploma at her 1968 graduation from Marian Central Catholic High School in Worcester, Massachusetts, because she had acknowledged her parents in the audience ?
To recognize the courage and leadership that Suzanne Lukas demonstrated in the face of adversity, we have awarded her the Routing By Rumor Humanitarian Of The Year award. If readers would like to express their appreciation and support for Ms. Lukas’ actions, you can visit the Maine Department of Education’s website, and e-mail Maine’s Education Commissioner, Susan A. Gendron.
Ms. Lukas, you really need to give Justin Denney his hard-earned diploma (preferably with the news media present) before the Board of Education (it is called the “Board of Directors” in the case of this school district) hands you your walking papers, for making the District the laughing stock of the Internet and the State of Maine. While you’re at it, why don’t you help yourself to a large serving of humble pie, and issue a public apology to Mr. Denney, his family, and the students and parents of Bonny Eagle High School. Who knows… expressing a bit of remorse for your despicable behavior might even save your job !
Perhaps it’s also time for the Maine School Administrative District 6 to revisit some of their rules and regulations, which seem more appropriate for a correctional facility or prisoner-of-war camp, than for a school district. On that note, perhaps Ms. Lukas should apply for a warden’s job with the Maine Department of Corrections.
And to Justin Denney, congratulations on your graduation, and on your 15 minutes of fame. Andy Warhol was right !
It’s now almost a week since Justin Denney should have received his diploma. Schools Superintendent Suzanne Lukas (her name has become a household word, but for all the wrong reasons) seems to have gone into hiding. The School District Board of Directors has held a closed-door emergency meeting to discuss the situation, and the Dennys have spoken to an attorney. Justin Denney still does not have the diploma that he has earned.
Doesn’t anybody in the school system have any intestinal fortitude or common sense ? Deliver the diploma to Justin’s home in person. Send it by FedEx. Have Suzanne Lukas crawl up to the Denney’s front door on her hands and knees, holding the diploma in her mouth. Whatever. The important thing at this point is to award the diploma and issue a public apology. Any administrative action against Ms. Lukas, any lawsuits against the school district, and any changes to school policy will all come in due time. The longer the school district waits to “make things right”, the more damage that will be done. Rather than going into closed-door executive sessions, sitting around a conference table and wringing their hands, one of the school administrators or Board members should stand up, take the lead, and put a quick end to this nonsense. And the families of SAD #6 (aptly named, don’t you think?), should use the next school board elections as an opportunity to ensure that this sort of situation doesn’t happen again.
- Routing By Rumor