Letter to the Editor: It's a Disaster, Not an Inconvenience

A Cinnaminson teacher says he hopes his students know the difference in light of Hurricane Sandy.

To the editor:

I just finished reading a letter to the editor by one of our students here at Cinnaminson High School. The letter gave many reasons why this student felt "inconvenienced" by having the makeup days for school missed being next week. The days of Nov. 8 and 9 were originally for the now-cancelled New Jersey teachers’ convention.

I have a confession to make; I am embarrassed to say that I complained this Tuesday when my TV, Internet and phone service were interrupted for one night. I somehow managed to get through that "difficult night" by taking my family out to dinner and a movie so we could survive living without the comforts of today’s electronic world for one night!

I know how stressed students get from having homework and projects due. I can see how the college application process is a worrisome time for many because their futures are directly tied to where they go to college and how well they qualify to get into the schools of their choice. As an educator, I am mystified that we can try and teach our students that the world we live in doesn’t just revolve around us and yet these lessons for some don’t seem to be getting through. The disaster of Sandy which is unprecedented in terms of people affected and the amount of property damage is so much more than an “inconvenience!”

I have been stunned by the sheer numbers of people affected by this disaster:
8 million people without electric, nearly 100 dead at last count, many bodies are still yet to be located. I watched on the news hundreds in line to buy one gallon of gas to keep their generators going, only to be told after 4-5 hours in line the stations simply do not have any more gas. I have seen whole sections of towns like Breezy Point wiped off the map. The scenes of thousands of homes completely destroyed and agonizing peoples' faces that still can’t even get back to their communities to even check on how much damage was done is more than an "inconvenience!"

If I as a teacher have not taught my students more sensitivity to this overwhelming amount of human suffering—forget merit pay—I have failed to do my job! The student wrote in her letter that she wanted to contact the governor to discuss whether or not these days even have to be made up. Somehow I think the governor has more on his mind right now than excusing students from school for the days they had off.  

I have to say that seeing the governor on TV, I could see real anguish in his face talking about the state he has lived in his whole life and the shore area he has loved since childhood.

I hope that many students will take this opportunity, and knowing them as I do, I can almost guarantee it, to reach out to others—not with complaints but with sympathy because they know the difference between an "inconvenience" and a "disaster!"

Richard Masi
Cinnaminson High School teacher

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Paul Seymour November 04, 2012 at 12:51 AM
I was not happy when Patch turned off the comments on the students LTE because I was appalled and had some comments to make. Thankfully Mr. Massi's letter was well thought out, empathetic, and in my opinion very appropriate. Better than any words I could have added. Now I see what is most likely the parents of this student crying on Patch the teachers not fare. He did not single anyone out but took this opportunity to try and give this student and others a moment of pause to think about the gravity of this situation. He also complimented the students and said that he knows most know the difference, and I agree as you can see from the comments from student Turtle lover. So lesson to be learned, 1. Don't send a letter to the editor then get upset if others don't agree. 2. Don't get offended if others think of you as selfish. 3.The student could have just contacted Governor Christie privately and not Patch but if you think his response to her would have bin kind, or polite, then she also doesn't know or understand our current governor either. Thank you Mr. Masi I for one think you letter was appropriate.
Ric November 04, 2012 at 01:30 AM
@Paul, Huh? "the parents of this student crying on Patch the teachers not fare" That makes no sense - especially since the only crying was by Dick Masi. He cried tons of moral indignation because a student publically disagreed with a decision of the school. Goodness, his students must be afraid to speak their minds around him. He reminds me of the late Chuck Dorner. Face it; the student put together a well-reasoned argument, which is something you would want to see from students in a democracy. So Paul, how did you help the victims of the hurricane?
School spirit November 04, 2012 at 01:44 AM
So in your recent rebuttal AMD....And I quote "If you are going to BCC, then it's not necessary. Obviously the author of the letter has higher ambitions" So I guess that all kids going to BCC doesn't have higher ambitions? I guess kids who don't have the money to pay for a four year college just aren't aspiring for higher ambitions? Just because your two children are perfect is not a reason to bash the kids "only going to BCC". You ARE the true definition of a helicopter parent!
SS November 04, 2012 at 02:14 AM
I'm not defending either article but I need your assistance. Please find one full sentence in Rick Masi's LTE that you would consider "bashing" the student. I re-read a few times and couldn't find one. Please help me understand what you're talking about, I'm just a TCNJ graduate who didn't have high ambitions. I was lucky enough to be able to attend a four year college right away but I saw your comment on BCC. I'm sure you're aware that students who graduate in top 15% of their high school get full tuition paid to BCC and if they maintain a 3.5 or better while attending get $7,000 per year towards any NJ public school. (Rutgers, TCNJ, Rowan, etc) It's a great, cost-effective stepping stone to a four-year degree.
Paul Seymour November 04, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Well Ric I worked the entire time we had the hurricane - 12 hour shifts responding to calls all over Cinnaminson helping our residents. I also offered my home here to my neighbors in Ocean Grove NJ as well as my wife bringing friends and family supplies tomorrow who live in Laurence Harbor.....and I wish I could do more. Please, the students letter was at best inconsiderate. Also they have to go 180 days by law if not now then in June so what's her next letter it's not fare they don't start summer break on time. Also I worked in the school for 9 years and to my recollection school visits were an excused absence. So the close to your response is a poke at Charley Dorner. Charley loved Cinnaminson and I was sad when he passed. It totally explains why you think this students letter was ok.
amd November 04, 2012 at 02:39 AM
A helicopter parent would never allow their child to put themselves out there for adults to bash them. I am a parent who believes that their child should be entitled to have an opinion and not be afraid to voice it. Maybe some of the people responding to this should check their spelling (fare? I believe it's spelled fair - bin? or been) because obviously they didn't care about their school work. The response referring to BCC was made because Turtle Lover was bashing the student for choosing a heavy course load. I realize that some students cannot afford a 4 year college and there is nothing wrong with going to BCC for 2 years but do not criticize a student who chooses to take a heavy course load in order to get into a 4 year college. But yet again you are bashing the author's personal life and not her opinion of whether or not the school's should open or close for those 2 extra days. That was the original intent of the letter to the editor. The author's personal life should never have figured into this discussion. If you want to debate yes or no to the school being open or close, that would be reasonable. If you do not personally know the author and know nothing about her, how can you decide what type of person she is by a letter stating an opinion. Stay on topic and debate whether or not school should close or open next week.
Dan Reynolds November 04, 2012 at 02:40 AM
Hey, here's a tough fact of life; Things happen. These things are not in your control. Right now we have a 4 person family plus one dog living in our house.. which already had a three person family and a dog in it. They are from North NJ - they have no power, their schools are still closed. I'm pretty sure they didn't plan on living with us for the past week (or until) they get power back. Nothing in life is guaranteed, not even the staple two days off in November for the teachers conference. Adapt, its one of the best lessons you can ever learn.
SS November 04, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Where is the attack?
SS November 04, 2012 at 02:57 AM
We're at the point of correcting grammar and spelling of people that disagree, stating that misspelling words is a direct result of poor work ethic. Pretentious would be an understatement.
Paul Seymour November 04, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Sorry I am dyslexic so making the occasional spelling mistake has been something I have had to deal with my entire life. As well as people who feel that pointing it out makes them superior. No one said students should not have an opinion. What I said was they need to understand that if they make the decision to voice it in a public forum be prepared for responses and criticism that they may not like as well as having their spelling and grammar pointed out to them too I'm sure....LOL
Sheila November 04, 2012 at 03:42 AM
@ Ric. Wow, really. I've made my Red Cross donation, I've bought my 2 Restore the Shore tshirts, we bought $200 in sweats, underwear, socks, personal items to take to the Delran Fire Department who were making a run down, all while my husband is laid off. Not that it's any of your business what anyone else does. Considering the defense of the students letter was that it wasn't an attack on victims of the hurricane, or had nothing to do with the hurricane, why are you making the issue about who's done what for the victims? I think this has run it's course. We disagree and that's allowed.
Jay November 04, 2012 at 04:21 AM
When I first read Olivia's letter, I assumed she was going to take a little heat. The one suggestion I would give her is, do not comment back on other's comments. Most people use fake names and can become very ignorant being incognito. And to her credit, she has not. I know this girl personally, and she is a very good student, and does a lot of volunteering in our community. She surely has a right to voice her opinion. This disaster affected many lives, and hitting so close to home, makes us all think different. If she posted this letter 3 days after Katrina, the San Fransusco earthquake, or the midwest tornadoes, no one would be giving her any grief, because it didn't directly affect us. She has a legitimate point. Many students will miss these days because of planned events, I can only imagine that these school days will be more "babysitting" than teaching anyway, so basically they are only to fulfill the calendar requirement. Perhaps a better idea, would be to have teachers, such as Mr. Massi, to use these days helping seniors with their college questions, essays, and ambitions. Mr. Massi's letter made some excellent points, my thoughts are that he probably should not have directed many of his comments at the other writer. But, while we all have different opinions on this topic, I'm sure everyone is in agreement that this storm is definitely a disaster, and not an inconvenience. However, it surely has caused many inconveniences.
Turtle Lover November 04, 2012 at 04:23 AM
Let get things straight amd. I no way sought to "bash" Olivia for taking a heavy course load, only to point out that she volunteeraly took on said courses. I know first hand what it is like to visit colleges because in one week I visited three across the tri-state area. Although you may not think so, I payed attention at these visits and I too have taken on multiple tough courses. There are four AP classes on my scheule and I understood I would be working hard when I took on those classes. You also have the audacity to "bash" someone else's spelling. I just see that as a desperate attempt to belittle those who have differing opinions than your own. Your setting a very good example for you daughter amd. Please do keep posting responses to let your message better sink in.
Sun Lover November 04, 2012 at 04:38 AM
Yes, school should be open next week. Face it, you can't handle criticism and now it has turned into a bunch of heated comments. Wouldn't it be a perfect world if we could all dictate. Well, we can't. School officials made a decision. Not everyone will agree, but it is the decision. Just like the Governor rescheduled Halloween. Just like parents you make decisions that your children don't agree with........that is called "life". It was very selfish and inconsiderate of you AMD to have your daughter send her opinion to the patch. It saddens me that this is your concern. There is soooo much devestation, that this issue is so trivial. You as an adult should have explained that to your daughter. I have a Senior child who is carrying a heavy course load, has visited colleges, and has completed the college essay over the summer. My child in no way has complained about going to school next week. My child had plans. Get over yourself and get your daughter over herself.
Turtle Lover November 04, 2012 at 04:44 AM
Amd, before you correct me and say I do not care about my school work, I misspelled voluntarily as "volunteeraly".
LP November 04, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Well said Mr. Masi. People should be more concerned with helping their neighbors who didn't fare as well than with having to go to school.
Ric November 04, 2012 at 02:11 PM
So exactly what are you, those opposed to the student, and Dick Masi doing to help our neighbors down at the shore that allows all of you to post messages at Patch at the same time? Oh, you donated $5 to the Red Cross. Sorry but Dick is wrong. And frankly when he attacks a student it shows he is well past his prime. He needs to stop teaching and collect his pension. Just like that teacher in Bucks County
Ric November 04, 2012 at 02:38 PM
@Paul. I knew you were a teacher! When I was a student we were taught to question everything. So tell me, nowadays are students expected to remain like sheep? Why does her complaining offend so many teachers? Also, don't you should have made that your teaching experience clear in your first post? By the way, other than paying enormous school taxes I have no connection to the school district. By the way, you do not know what the student did to help people during the storm. She could have easily done more than just help family and friends. I expect most Cinnaminson residents did at least that.
cheergirl November 04, 2012 at 02:59 PM
"The disaster of Sandy which is unprecedented in terms of people affected and the amount of property damage is so much more than an “inconvenience!” I found that this sentence was bashing her. It sound as if he is mocking Olivia. She did not say that Sandy was an inconvenience, she said that the late notice of canceling school was an inconvenience.
LP November 04, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Well Ric, Friday evening I dropped an SUV's worth of supplies off at Fountain of Life Church in Burlington, which is a local shelter for victims. Yesterday I helped a friend start demo on her home which was completely flooded and had to be gutted. Today I am going to drop off round 2 of supplies to Fountain of Life, where I will later volunteer this week to help the victims, who are now homeless. Perhaps you should look in the mirror, and take 1/25th of the time you spend on Patch and go do something more valuable with your time.
AnoninCinna November 04, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Ric - why are you vehemently attacking those who are expressing their point of view by asking them what they have done to assist those affected by this terrible tragedy? What others have done is clearly not the issue. Although it is a shame that this student is experiencing some stress due to the change in the school calendar - as others have pointed out, this is a valuable life lesson for her and other students in the same situation. Also, it is an opportunity for this student and young people in general, to learn to count their blessings and be grateful for what they have. Our world would be a much better place if everyone could look beyond their own immediate needs and do more to help others. Sadly, our society, especially our youth, has become more and more "me me me" oriented. The student who wrote the Letter to the Editor was brave for expressing her opinion, and I commend her for that. But, I do suggest that she take a moment to reflect on those who are dealing with much more serious problems than college essays and visits - life and death situations. That is reality, and that is life.
Ric November 04, 2012 at 04:13 PM
@Annoin I have a confession to make: I am embarrassed to say that I am very offended by a teacher complaining of the audacity he somehow sees in a student’s complaint. The better question for you to ask is: Why did Dick Masi trivialize the student’s complaints by citing the human suffering by the hurricane. Buddy, you need to reread the vehement attacks by a teacher and stop criticizing anyone who defends the student's first amendment rights to air a complaint. He is pompous beyond belief.
Ric November 04, 2012 at 04:15 PM
LP. Get a clue. I have not been on Patch for days. Guess what I have been doing.
AnoninCinna November 04, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Ric - it sounds like you have a personal vendetta against Mr. Masi - he signed his name Richard, why are you calling him "Dick"? Mr. Masi raised very valid points, points that many readers here agree with, as you can clearly see by the comments. No one is saying that the student doesn't have the "right" to air a complaint, Ric. And citing the First Amendment? Really Ric? What people are saying is that the student's "complaint" seems trivial when compared to the suffering and loss that many in our region have experienced. And I do hope that you realize how hypocritical you sound by valiantly "defending the student's First Amendment rights" yet trying to impede Mr. Masi's. Have a wonderful day, Ric!
Ric November 04, 2012 at 04:36 PM
AnnoinCinna. Your record is perfect - you are wrong again. I have never met, talked or had any contact with Dick Masi. By the way, Richard Nixon went by Dick. And he was a great president despite the campaign against him. By the way, goodbye you have not made a relevant point and I am bored.
Proud Mom November 04, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Proud mother of a HS student that work their but off the three days they did not have school. Plus helped collect donations and take them to LBI this past Saturday !
Patch Reader November 04, 2012 at 08:07 PM
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the life lesson ... well said, Dan.
Helen Quinn November 05, 2012 at 09:00 PM
I would assume that most seniors in the State had plans for those days. These visits to colleges can certainly be reschuled. Our State in in chaos! Don't sweat the small stuff.
Skitch November 07, 2012 at 06:08 AM
Oh wow @AMD. I take offense to your semi bashing BCC. I have a 2012 grad going to BCC and loving it. He will transfer to a 4 yr coll. when he has taken all of his LA and graduate from Drexel, V'nova or where ever else he wants to go with a college degree same as your daughter. Only difference is that i can pay cash and not be have to mortgage the farm or have my kid in debt from student loans. Since your daughter is so smart and in AP classes as you have pointed out in most of your posts...let her use her brain, prioritize her schedule, her work and figure out how to get the work all done. We as parents do this 24/7 Why didn't she use her time wisely while she had the 3 days off? As a parent and student in the school system for at least the last 11+ years it's pretty obvious that both you and your daughter should have known that that the time would have to be made up during the school year. What better time to make up the days than during the cancelled convention, since AC was annilated from the storm. Yes, it is inconvenient to some who had plans to travel. That is life. Adjust. It would also be inconvenient during spring break or at the back end of school in June for others. Perhaps your daughter should have spent her summer vacation completing essays like a lot of seniors for early admissions to the school of her choice. Instead of cramming at the last minute.
Skitch November 07, 2012 at 06:27 AM
@Ric. Before you ask me what i have been doing to help the victims of the storm. I am a 27yr veteran claims adjuster for one of the largest insurance carriers in NJ pulling 16hr days and handing out checks left and right. Need I say anymore? The damage in Cinnaminson is childs play when compared to most of the other areas that i have been to within the last 5-6 days. I am also a victim of flood damage to my shore property. The water went in the front and out the back of my house and left nothing to be salvaged. I have been taking care of other peoples problems while neglecting my own. That is what i have been doing to help the victims of Sandy. You go Mr. Masi. You hit the nail right on the head!!!! Sandy is a huge disaster of unprecidented proportions which affects such a wide spread area. Not only NJ. It will take NJ as a state years to shovel out, recover and repair all of the damage that was caused. Over the last 27yrs i have handled claims and traveled into areas all over the country due to storm damage and have never seen anything like this before! Particularly in NJ.


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