Righteous Wrath

To the Editor,

Mailbag Regarding Vicki Hart's "It's Party Time" and "Twisted Standards" (Tucson Weekly, February 5): Way to go. I've watched the behavior of Salpointe High School students and parents at games I've attended over the years and have always been amazed at their atrocious behavior. This article is not at all surprising, because many of us in the community have watched it play out over and over again. Their reactions to this article further condemns them, and still they refuse to take a good, honest look at themselves and their behavior.

Why hide? Look at it and do something about it. Hopefully, in the end, this is what they will do.

--Pam Vossler

To the Editor,

Regarding Vicki Hart's "It's Party Time" and "Twisted Standards" (Tucson Weekly, February 5): We are the parents of two Salpointe Catholic High School students; our son is a varsity football player and varsity wrestler and our daughter is a junior varsity soccer player. For the record, we are exceedingly pleased with the academic excellence, athletic development, moral consciousness, social awareness and personal growth which we are witnessing in our children as a result of their education at Salpointe.

We take offense at Mrs. Hart's gross generalizations, venomous innuendoes, outright fabrications and unsourced suggestions which paint a very ugly picture. She is in error. For each of her bitter stories grounded in hearsay, we can eagerly share dozens of accurate examples of respectful, honest, hard-working, caring students who are the essence of Salpointe.

As a community of students, parents faculty and administrators Salpointe strives to be a living example of Christian values on a daily basis. We may not always succeed and it is unfortunate that any...[fax garbled in transmission].

--Kay and John Sullivan

To the Editor,

We are the parents of a Salpointe Catholic High School senior who, for four years, has honored the code of morality, non-drinking or drug taking and ethics. She is a varsity cheerleader, an honor role student and active in many extra-curricular activities such as SADD. She has donated four years to the Assisteens in community service.

We take great offense to the article by Ms. Hart; it is filled with gross generalizations, scathing innuendoes, coffee-klatch gossip and hearsay. It is not necessary to defend a school with top-notch athletic scholars and community volunteers; it is necessary to defend those who are the butt of her unfounded lies.

It is unfortunate that some students at Salpointe have not shown the values they are taught. We appreciate the hundreds that do. We are a community of students, parents, educators and volunteers who have already made a huge positive impact on the community of Tucson.

--Robert and Kristine Howard

To the Editor,

As the Editor-in-Chief of The Salpointe Crusader Newsmagazine, I walk into a high school publications room every weekday and often on weekends. No matter what is on my mind as I walk through the door, there is always an underlying realization of the job to which I am committed.

My responsibility to the readers of The Crusader is not something I take lightly. I like to think things operate in a somewhat similar manner in the world of professional journalists.

However, a complete lack of journalistic ethics and a disregard for the responsibility of informing readers was demonstrated when Douglas Biggers, Tucson Weekly editor/publisher, printed two articles "It's Party Time" and "Twisted Standards?" written by Vicki Hart in the February 5-11 issue.

And now I sit here, reading Hart's February 12-17 "Jesus H. Christ," a rebuttal to alleged perpetrations and threats from Salpointe students and parents against the Hart family, and wonder what credibility lies in these words.

My favorite is her reply to calls from the Salpointe Crusader demanding to know what professional journalistic organizations The Weekly belongs to.

Answer: "A bunch. But first and foremost, we belong to that group called 'citizens,' a group whose right to free speech is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. Guess they don't teach that--or at least not well--at Salpointe."

Well, I am the accused journalist who called The Weekly editors. In fact, I called Biggers; Dan Huff, managing editor; Jim Nintzel, senior editor; and Mari Wadsworth, associate editor; none of whom returned my messages.

If they had the courtesy to return my calls, they would have discovered that the journalism program, social studies department and the English department all teach the First Amendment rights. But in addition to that, we learn responsibility for our actions: responsibility to the readers and to the laws which defend our rights as citizens.

According to the Code of Ethics as defined by the Society of Professional Journalists, "respect for the dignity, privacy, rights, and well-being of people encountered in the course of gathering and presenting the news" must be at the heart of true journalism.

Hart's writing exhibited none of these qualities. She blatantly attacked the Salpointe community on a four-page, front-cover article which allowed two mere sentences (in the third to last paragraph) to Mrs. Charlotte Harris, the only administrator mentioned in "It's Party Time."

Hart named no sources in a column that alleged the Salpointe basketball and football teams to be ferociously pitted against one another. She wrote of "out of control" athletes needing to be regulated in the school weight room, "spoiled brats at Salpointe Catholic High School," "boozing teens," and an offensive nun calling a former student a "traitor." Yet, she sited no sources or names of the parties involved.

I am fully supportive of journalists who protect their sources as Woodward and Bernstein did in the '70s. But Hart's writing does not even qualify to be mentioned in the same sentence with great reporters or true journalists. Without a shred of substantial evidence for her sidebar, Hart attempted to disparage Salpointe's reputation in front of the entire city.

However, truth lends credibility. Facts, not suppositions, are the true characteristics of the press guarded by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

"Good faith with the public is the foundation of all worthy journalism," says the Society of Professional Journalists.

As far as I am concerned, the attempt to crush Salpointe's stature backfired because of a lack of ethics and common sense and mediocre-at-best reporting. Any "good faith" the Tucson Weekly held in the Salpointe community was damaged far beyond any pain caused to our school.

--Jennifer E. Levario

To the Editor,

I would just like to comment on your articles these past few weeks by Vicki Hart about Salpointe Catholic High School. I will be first to admit that there is a drug and alcohol problem at Salpointe. You are, however, stereotyping the problem to all of Salpointe. I personally have never done drugs nor alcohol. Hell I have not even tried a cigarette. Vicki says, "Alcohol and marijuana are the drugs of choice at Salpointe." They are drugs of choice at any school!!! You are only telling one side of the story. "A CDO Student said, 'Nice behavior for a Christian school.'" First, not everyone is Christian at Salpointe. Second, we are teenagers no matter what school we go to. Finally, talk about CDO, some CDO students wear shirts that say "FUCK Salpointe." Nice behavior for any school.

The teachers at Salpointe are a lot more caring than at other schools. Freshmen at CDO get egged and toilet papered at the first pep rally. If anything goes wrong at Salpointe's assembly, the principal and faculty step in. Students at CDO do drugs right on campus in visible view of teachers, and they do nothing. Students who do drugs at Salpointe usually hide in the alleys of the neighborhood. When a Salpointe student gets caught with an illegal substance, they are automatically expelled. I know Vicki's kids go to Amphi. I cannot speak for Amphi High, because I do not know anyone there, but I can tell you it is probably worse. Amphi is in a poorer part of town; unfortunately, even though the lower class is typically harder working than the upper class, they are typically most of the 1.8 million Americans imprisoned.

I went to summer school at CDO, and CDO students dressed in leather like witches, freaks, and sluts. I can assure you that a lot of the Salpointe students dress this way out of class, but thank God for our dress code!!! Most of the Salpointe students are clean-cut and kempt. I can tell you I know of one CDO student, whom I went to fifth grade with, who does not bath!!! She stinks and her hair is all knotted. Sure some Salpointers stink, but I can tell you most of the Salpointe girls smell good and have beautiful hair! As for Vicki Hart's house getting egged, I do not agree with that, but she deserved it!!!

Name one of the "BUNCH" of professional journalistic organizations you belong to, other than the United States!!! Vicki Hart is full of crap! She actually thinks she is going to continue these articles bashing Salpointe for a year? Do you think we are going to put stock in anything she says? Vicki Hart is an invalid!!! If anyone puts stock in anything that is in The Weekly, they are idiots!!! If you are a decent newspaper, you would have a Salpointe Crusader journalist write a rebuttal. I doubt you would do that, because you are trash. Your newspaper is full of pornographic advertisements about sex, uncensored personal ads, and impenitent drugs! The Weekly is a trashy newspaper with trashy articles written by White Trash for White Trash!!! Feel free to quote me on that!!!!!!

GET OVER IT VICKI!!! THERE IS NOTHING TO UNCOVER AT SALPOINTE!!! Public schools have their secrets too!!!

--BW Ewing

To the Editor,

I'm writing this in regard to the Tucson Weekly issue that was released February 5, 1998. It featured many stories that were based on Salpointe students, referring to them as "spoiled, boozing teens." I, as a member of the Salpointe student body, do not enjoy being called a spoiled teen, let alone a boozing one, along with other numerous accusations against my classmates, few of which can be confirmed. First, although I know that this article was not meant to include all students, the poor choice of words let the reader to believe that in this sweeping generalization, all Salpointe students were financially well off, and indulge in inappropriate behavior. This is far from the truth.

Every day after school, students stay here, cleaning up the campus in Salpointe's work study program to help pay for their tuition. If Salpointe is the horrible place that it is made out to be in this issue of Tucson Weekly, then why would these high school students use their spare time to pay for their tuition here?

I myself am a recipient of financial aid, and I am by no means "spoiled." There are family members that are working extremely hard for me to go to Salpointe. My mother works two jobs, and recently, she has returned to school to finish her own degree. My grandmother works in hospice care, giving all her time and money to allow her three granddaughters to receive a Catholic education. I fail to see my lifestyle as "spoiled."

I do however, like many other Salpointe students, have amazing opportunities that I think I could not have received elsewhere. And I am, much like many other Salpointe students very loved and cared about, not only by my parents, but by my school and by the community that is formed in Salpointe. I guess we Salpointe students really are spoiled, but certainly not in the ways that Vicki Hart infers in her articles.

I was fortunate enough to be a part of Salpointe's award-winning newspaper, the Crusader, at which I was taught that a responsible news reporter who would like to produce valid material always researches both sides of the story. I do not feel this was accomplished in the articles written by Vicki Hart. Reporting with unnamed sources that agree with one's biased view on a subject does not constitute responsible journalism. It is not only irresponsible, but in poor taste to convey such strong opinions without attributing them to a valid source. This causes the reader to discredit the work, which should certainly be done in this case. A good reporter, especially an educator, should know how to report without bias or emotion, vital techniques to responsible journalism that the author of these articles clearly lacks. Sadly enough, it is to be a "spoiled, boozing teen," that must be the one to point it out. Hart's method of journalism is more clearly defined as "yellow journalism." Obviously, not everyone agrees with this portrayal of Salpointe. I do not stand alone.

Thank goodness for education "...and, obviously having watched too many TV cop shows, they're shown questioning the officer about their Miranda rights and commenting about how far away pepper spray should be used." This quotation merely exemplifies the high standard of education students receive at Salpointe, not from TV cop shows. not all high-school students have to learn from television, and contrary to popular belief, minors have constitutional rights as well, the difference here is, thanks to the amazing education they receive, Salpointe students are aware of them.

I believe that another mistake that was made in this article was the dramatic focus on finances. Not only as a Salpointe student was I offended, but as a person who has tried to get past one's money to determine one's worth. It was inferred that Salpointe students have the ability to "resurface the track" or "purchase new computers" to buy their way in and out of Salpointe and sticky situations, and that the "rich kids," a term which is loosely defined, receive advantages over the poor souls who are only of "moderate means." This only encourages students and other readers to believe that money is the key to everything. It is not, and as an educator, the author of these articles should be the first to promote that.

What really bothered me most about these articles was the second side article, "Twisted Standards." There are a number of offensive and slanderous statements in this article. For example, as a Salpointe student council member, I have had the opportunity to meet a number of Salpointe students from various groups. I have attended numerous athletic activities, from volleyball to football to basketball, and never once have I noticed any animosity between any of the sports teams. I am proud of Salpointe unity, and this community exceeds barriers between differences in sports. I am also familiar with the pledge, a Salpointe policy to help students stay out of trouble. I myself have signed it, and like others, have followed it. I have seen football players, for example, at parties with water bottles instead of beers, and they are the majority that remain unnoticed.

I am also familiar with many of the administrators and teachers at Salpointe, as well as some of the nuns. First, for those who are unaware, the sisters at Salpointe do not wear their habits. They dress as everyday educators would. Therefore, they look like normal spectators, and at a sporting event, could not be distinguished by any other than a Salpointe student, all of whom I believe, have faith in these women to uphold the Salpointe spirit and respect. I could not, by any means, imagine any of these people referring to a former Salpointe student as a "traitor," let alone refusing to speak to one

As for the "rich" student who harassed the "fine young man"--religious, friendly, and a good student and an all-American boy, receiving good grades and setting a good example for others: Although a report was filed, no actions were taken because it was confirmed that the accused was out of town with his family at the time the threatening call was made, and charges were dropped. And because of these accusations that proved to be false, his name was dragged through the mud by a family over eager to place the blame. Granted, the phone call was made from the home of a student, however, it was during a get-together at the home, and due to the fact that Salpointe students come from all over, there is no proof that the threatening call was made from an actual Salpointe student.

Again, the integrity of my classmates and friends was challenged with the phrase "intoxicated cheerleaders," referring to a few who showed up at Salpointe's Winter Ball intoxicated. First, the entire squad was not present during this incident. The issue was handled, and the offenders punished as the policy in the handbook clearly defines. Jesus Christ teaches us to forgive, and just as Salpointe students have forgiven Ms. Hart for her offensive and biased article about them, they too have forgiven the violators of the Salpointe Drug and Alcohol policy and are helping their classmates.

Nearby residents who believe that Salpointe students are smoking marijuana and cigarettes during their lunch periods are not qualified to make this assumption. Some Salpointe students are of smoking age, and due to their constitutional rights can legally smoke. I would never judge others on their decisions to smoke tobacco or not. However, as to the accusations about marijuana, there is not proof and no way for neighbors to confirm that Salpointe students were smoking marijuana. These accusations hurt Salpointe students and put them into a category where they don't belong, based on hearsay.

Finally, the frosting on the cake. Canyon Del Oro High School. I am called to remember our homecoming game against CDO, at which our band did not play during half-time. Why? Because contrary to the high-school tradition, CDO would not allow Salpointe's band to play at their own homecoming, as is usual for the away team during this game. I also remember picking up the pieces of the homecoming floats that were destroyed after Salpointe's triumphant victory over CDO. As a Catholic school we are taught that one should take the plank out of their own eye before pointing out the splinter in someone else's. That is our Catholic school behavior in action.

The values that I have learned from Salpointe are irreplaceable. Salpointe is a school, and like any other school, there are students who will make mistakes. But to generalize and categorize Salpointe students based on the actions of a few, is a poor decision to make. There are a number of amazing hardworking Salpointe students, whose positive contributions to Salpointe are immense. This positive aspect is not mentioned. Salpointe students have gathered together more than once to pray, to learn, and to help build an amazing community that is unique to Salpointe. This community has helped Salpointe through many struggles that we have overcome, together.

The accusations and generalizations seemed to come from a biased source, on a personal mission to defame Salpointe. The community found in Salpointe is phenomenal, but there is no need to be jealous. Everyone is welcome.

Last year's graduating class earned over $3 million in scholarships in schools all over the country and in Mexico. That must have been in between the boozing, and spoiled behavior; just ask Salpointe's number one support, Vicki Hart.

--Jennifer Alewelt

To the Editor,

I would like to thank you, Vicki Hart, for exposing just some of the incredible things that happen at Salpointe High I feel my time at this school is limited, so I will provide you with even more inside information to help you with your crusade.

I am being expelled on Thursday because my parents no longer have enough money to pay for bribes after the last problem I had, which resulted in my parents buying the administration Rolex watches. My latest troubles happened just last Friday, as your first story was coming to light.

I was called into the dean's office for being visibly drunk in my Government class, where we had a heated discussion about your article. They asked me to blow in to a breathalyzer, and they took hair samples to test for drugs. I came up over the legal limit on the breathalyzer, and I know that the hair sample will have enough drugs in it to supply an entire public school for a year.

Anyway, that's when I was asked to stay after school and deal with our School Resource Officer, Silva. Now, I was able to hear what actually went on in the emergency meeting held that day.

All 50 some teachers and the top 10 administrators gathered in the teachers lounge (paid for by an anonymous donor about the time of that unfortunate murder) The principal said, "The purpose of this meeting is to discuss that damn woman from the Tucson Weekly, Vicki Hart. What should our community do in retaliation for this monstrosity?"

As the teachers looked around and tried to come up with a truly devious plan, a small voice came from the back. It was a nun with an attitude. "I suggest we egg her house!". Some teachers agreed, but her fellow sister said, "Eggs are too expensive and difficult to throw, I say we just throw empty beer cans at her house, after we're done getting good and liquored up!" Again, some teachers agreed, and they opened up a cold one to show their support.

This is when things got ugly. The two disagreeing nuns started yelling at each other. The first nun grabbed the second and flung her on the ground. Our principal tried desperately to get Officer Silva in there to help, but was told that he was on a coffee break. Eventually, the National Guard was called in and the event ended with only minor side effects due to tear gas, but this is an incident that Salpointe would never want you to know about.

This is a letter that you can criticize in your third of 47 articles about Salpointe Catholic High School. I would appreciate your not commenting on my mizspeelins or my punctuation, mistakes. If you would stick to the real issue, I would hold your word more highly. By the way, if you would like to use my name in your article, it is Joseph Toland. Your lack of names, and always citing an anonymous source really doesn't due anything to promote the idea that you aren't just making things up.

First, I will not make the same mistakes that you accuse the author of the first letter of making. By the way, your concentration on the first letter should have been focused on the message, not the fact that there were problems with grammatical errors. I am not attacking you personally, but I am attacking all aspects of your articles about Salpointe. I do not care if you wrote them, and your "spawn of Satan" friend wrote the headlines. The fact is that the Tucson Weekly should not be engaged in such outlandish "journalism."

Let me call your attention to the seeming lack of your understanding of the Catholic religion. First, regarding your comment about the vocal soccer player. One incident at an activity that happens to be school sanctioned is no reason for expulsion. I actually referee soccer, and I know that players become emotional and yell. I also know that if that becomes a problem, I have authority to deal with it, and I do not need the school to act unless physical abuse happens. The only reason for expulsion for a single incident would be an act of violence or another type of activity that would put another person in immediate danger. Other than that, the Catholic religion teaches forgiveness, and never turning away from someone in need. (I again say that the line must be drawn at the physical harming of another individual). The second blaring error in your Catholic comprehension is in the beginning of the second article, "The Savior Must Be Spinning in His Grave." If you truly believe that Christ was the Savior, then you must realize that he is not in a grave.

Now, if Salpointe was the most involved Tucson high school in drugs and alcohol and we both know that isn't true, at least the campus hasn't been proven to be dangerous. From personal experience, when I attended a public school I saw fights at least once a month, and was involved in two of them. Since I have been at Salpointe, I have not seen a single fight, and have seen only one altercation that even looked like it might turn violent. I have heard rumors of only four fights ever occurring between Salpointe students during the time I have attended Salpointe. I have been at Salpointe three and a half years.

Notice that Salpointe doesn't employ "monitors" for the sole purpose of keeping the peace. I was on the campus of a TUSD middle school last week and I noticed four monitors. I also noticed that the problem with safety was so bad that the administration felt the need to install "Dukane" brand intercoms. When I asked a teacher why they were there, she responded "So we can tell the office to get a student out of here!"

Remember the Tucson High riots? If not, look at the September 14, 1995, issue of the Tucson Weekly. That public school had the entire available Tucson Police Department responding to six different fights in riot gear. That school lost so much control over their students that they actually closed down the school for the remainder of the day.

Also, how dare you even suggest that a letter written in haste to respond to a nearly personal attack accurately represents the knowledge or intelligence of a Salpointe education. Where is the logic in saying, "Perhaps public schools aren't so bad after all?" You know that the education provided at Salpointe is better than is available to most public high school students. You also know that there is a long waiting list every year to get in to Salpointe, because only the smartest and best students are admitted, whereas every high school age student is required to be admitted into the public school system. I know that there are some extremely bright students that do not attend Salpointe, but Salpointe has a greater percentage of students scoring in the top 10 percentile than does the TUSD, or Amphi school district. I just ask you to open your eyes and realize that what you are implying here is simply absurd.

About your first amendment right. I am not a lawyer, nor do I pretend to be one. However, the fact is that libel, slander, and defamation are all against the law. If the first amendment protected you from these laws, there would be no need to have the laws on the books. Again, I am no lawyer, but as I understand the supreme court ruling in Ollman vs. Evans, slander can occur by implying something as fact. You are walking a fine line, and I wouldn't put it past a court to rule that your statement "no one seems to be able to explain why (Salpointe doesn't oust misbehaving students)" is slander. The administration "ousted" a student about a week before your first article for "misbehaving." This person was a star athlete and was to graduate this semester.

Now, as I have just quoted my right not to have you imply untrue things about me, you, too, have rights. If someone did egg your house, I am sorry. If someone did throw litter in your yard, I am sorry for that, too. The fact is that this activity is not condoned by Salpointe, and I'm sure they would love to help you find the culprits. However, you need to talk to the school. Those activities are crimes, so you have every right to call 911. You didn't in order to place blame on Officer Silva taking a day off, it would seem.

I hope this sensational "journalism" has received the publicity that you hoped it would. I hope that you get out of any lawsuits that may be filed against you or your publication with the punishment deserved. May God be with you.

--Joseph Toland

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