June 2003
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Power Trip
By Stephanie L., Grade 12, Delta Secondary, Delta, BC

Lip Syncs are a Delta Secondary School tradition, where a group (usually no more then ten students – typically grads) take bits and pieces from songs or comedic clips and put together a show to perform in front of whomever shows up in the gymnasium at the set time. Guaranteed to be a very humorous event and a good time for all.

What we did was never meant to hurt or disappoint anyone. We just wanted to show that we had been practicing and talking about since the summer. It was made very clear to us that lip syncs are trivial to some teachers/administrators but to us they are a big deal, something we'd looked forward to since grade eight, and we didn't think that our feelings, requests and views were being put into perspective or consideration throughout the debate surrounding lip syncs, and that resulted in us taking lip syncs into our own hands and breaking some trusts along with a page and a half of rules.

We didn't think our routine was shocking in any sense; that was, until numerous rules and restrictions were laid out, seemingly in stone. Then suddenly, on paper, our entire presentation became dirty – something that we very strongly disagreed with. Sexuality has always been quite a controversy, but for us growing up in the time that we are, the use of your sexuality is standard and sometimes we find ourselves using it without even realizing it. We felt that the administration's opposition to lip syncs had holes, unanswered questions and carried double standards. Yet we weren't being given the time or respect to plead our case.

Our main point was the fact that we felt that we were being singled out (whether or not that was the case, this was the way it came across to us and nobody made an effort to tell us otherwise when we displayed these concerns – and it is very hard to try to have a mature conversation with an adult of authority about feeling disrespected when they are rolling their eyes at you about your complaint). To our knowledge we were the only group asked to do a run through – whether or not we were going to be the only group who this applied to is questionable, but up to present time the two other groups had not been notified that they would have to do a pre-show before their turn to ‘take the stage.'

Another one of our frustrations was the list of rules. We had signed up, paid our $20 to make up a lip sync and perform it in front of the school – there were no terms and conditions, no different from any years prior. If there had been a list of rules at the time of sign up, I doubt that we would be in the situation that we are in right now. After a couple of 6-hour days spent making up routines, I find it very unfair to suddenly be presented with guidelines five days before our turn, and some three to four days after the lip syncs have already started. I'm not trying to say there shouldn't be rules – there have been shows before that have been totally inappropriate – but to have such rules as no pelvic thrusts, no hip movements and no shoulder shakes seems to be a bit unreasonable. A lot of dance moves are made up from this and just because you are shaking your hips doesn't mean that you are implying sex and considering that the key sponsor of our school's dance team was put in charge of previewing our lip sync, we were hoping this would be recognized – this was not the case.

Which brings me to double standards. I don't understand why it's okay for the dance team, made up of mostly 13-15 year olds, to do some of the moves that they do clad solely in body-hugging spandex – and representing our school – but then to turn around and say that we cannot move our hips during our lip syncs because suddenly it implies sex? For both the dance team and our lip syncs our routines were choreographed; we are both serious about it; both use costumes and both take up a considerable amount of time, group work and energy. So I'm still unclear as to the why there should be such an unreasonable line drawn for us and not them – especially when one of the administration's main point of cutting lip syncs all together was the fact that they ‘had to think like a grade eight parent' – apparently the grade eights who are involved in the dance team were not taken into any consideration when arguing of the innocence of thirteen year olds – not to mention what goes on during weekend life, which I can argue is definitely not the way it was in the 1960s.

We felt shut down in every possible corner and so came the performance that we gave – free of the rules and guidelines and us just out there having fun. I don't think anyone was harmed, traumatized, or made felt uncomfortable from our performance, and if they were, they had every right to get up and leave. No one was held in the gym against his or her will and they all entered in their free will. We aren't selfish, horrible, disrespectful girls. I think the very ironic thing about all of this is that us girls are known around our school with teachers – as the good kids. This is the first ounce of trouble most of us have been in throughout our entire school careers – up until now our principals didn't even know our names. Our suspension was totally out of line, and went against the promise in our school's agenda's to administer fairly and consistently. It was just the administration reminding us who was boss. Nothing more than a power trip.

You don't want problems with students? Set guidelines from the beginning – you can't all of a sudden stop a competition to change the rules. Just because you might be smarter than us, don't walk around like you know it. Ever taken the baby-sitting course? They teach you to humor kids – it'll get them to work with you. But mainly, have a sense of humor. Walking around looking like you just bit on a lemon is a great way to run a jail, not a school. Respect is earned, never demanded. And I wouldn't suggest demanding anything from students when you aren't willing to give the same in return.


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