I plan to write “Bryce Dershem” when I vote for the regional school board.
Bryce was the 2021 Eastern High School Valedictorian with the highest GPA. He gave his speech from memory, after the principal tore up his written copy, because Bryce spoke of his mental health and gender journey. A journey the administrators felt would make people uncomfortable. Change is uncomfortable. We all know smart, creative, individualistic kids buck the system — thank goodness. They are the ones we need to change the world, not jam their young wisdom in a box.
Most of us appreciate how heroic Bryce is. The actions of the school board remind me of the movie Ferris Bueller Day’s Off, where like Ferris, Bryce made our unimaginative board look like idiots on the national stage more than once. To this day, the Eastern Board of Education keeps trying to get their message out – about process and rules, rather than just apologize to Bryce. Why not just be caring educators and say, “We wished Bryce stuck to the program…but we understand he’s 18, we wish him a wonderful life, and hope he makes the world a better place!”
Instead, our board continues to bully Bryce by dismissing his brave and thoughtful actions. Like many bureaucrats and those hiding prejudice, the Eastern Board of Education is on the wrong side of education and history. The next story I’d like to read is how Bryce, via the write-in candidate process, got more than just my vote.
Voorhees, New Jersey