Hewett had been given the medals to present to the Gov.Livingston foil squad which had already boarded their bus, by the New Jersey Interscholastic Fencing Association, the coaches' governing body that ran the tournament, on what appeared to be a technicality.Do you reformy types still want to try to convince me that our public education system is a failure? A system that produces outstanding, upright, decent young people like this?
As I stood by Hewett at the conclusion of the event she gave a knowing look said in a disappointed voice “our girls fenced great, but we didn’t earn these medals.”
“What are going to do with them?” I asked, hoping that I was guessing right where she was going with that quiet statement.
“I am going to call Tony (Barbera) to make sure, but I think we need to give these medals to Columbia, they were the team that earned them.”
I’ve had the pleasure of talking to Gov. Livingston's first-year head coach Tony Barbera before. I didn’t have to wait around to know what the answer was going to be.
"Ellen called me and said we came in third in foil -- but we have a moral delemia," recalls Barbera. "She explained to me what happened and I called the Newark Academy coach to confirm the scores. My son Nicholas won the sportsmanship award at state individuals in 2009, that was my proudest moment, and I have him as an example to live up to. Once we knew what happened it wasn't even a question."
They found out what kind of fencers, what kind of competitors and what kind of peers that their counterparts wearing the GL team patch are.
Chu, Fan and Yang decided to give the medals to Columbia.
"The girls immediately said 'we didnt win it, we don't want it', " said Barbera. "In fencing you acknowledge the touch, that's what they did. I am so proud to be the coach of fencers that have shown the class that these girls did."
Ibtihaj Muhammad, who fenced for Duke in college and is one of the top sabre fencers in the country, has been at hundred if not thousands of competitions. This high school meet, however will stand out for her.
“This was the best show of sportsmanship I have ever seen as a coach,” said Muhammad. "Both the Gov.Livingston coaches and our coaches agree we hope this sparks a change in fencing.” [emphasis mine]
Do you really think any stupid bubble test put out by some corporate education provider can capture the true learning that happened that day in New Jersey? That some stupid question about pineapples and rabbits is more important than the character these beautiful young people and their teachers showed this day?
I'll say it until the day I die: I am proud to be an American public school teacher. I am proud of the great kids of this country. I am proud to be a part of a system that produces such fine young men and women.
You people who constantly bemoan and mock the "achievement" of our children need to step aside in shame. These kids - and their teachers - are far better people than you will ever be.