Ad Outrages Citizens
Students at Stephen Decatur High School are in shock over the paid advertisement that was released in the Friday, May 11 issue.
Richard Ferro and Garrett Magaha are popularly known as favorite teachers, coaches and colleagues throughout the school. Ferro and Magaha were recently recognized by student votes for various teacher superlatives in the school newspaper "The Hawk."
Ferro received the superlatives of "Best Personality" and "Best Sense of Humor," while Magaha received "Most Inspirational." This recognition is a true reflection of how the students perceive them as role models. Both men take pride in their professions and positions as coaches and strive to provide positive environments in the classroom and on the field.
The student body, as well as the administration, trusts the effectiveness of these educators to provide appropriate instruction in High School Assessment and Advanced Placement areas. Together, these men have made significant impacts on many people’s lives by steering students and players toward success. It is absolutely not fair that these allegations are negatively portraying their character.
Cassidy Nathan, Mackenzie Lane and Makaela Mitchell
I would like to respond to the defamatory, accusatory and cowardly advertisement that was placed in your paper last week regarding the Stephen Decatur baseball program, coaches and principal. I have a son who has played for both of these coaches over the course of the last eight years, beginning at a Little League level at summer clinics. He continues to play under the direction of both of these coaches both scholastically and in club settings and I have never, ever witnessed such repulsive accusations that are being waged at them.
I can attest that these coaches are grooming these young men, no longer boys, into becoming responsible, driven, respectful citizens. Temper tantrums, moodiness and selfishness have no place in team sports. It is our job as parents to monitor what goes on not only on the playing field but in our own children’s lives to make sure that they are both working towards the same goals. Parent involvement does not mean that we stick our noses into the jobs that the coaches are doing because our child is not getting the playing time we think they deserve. In the end, it continues to make for a selfish, self-serving human being who thinks the world revolves around them.
Bullying is a very strong word that is becoming overused. I do not condone bullying in any setting, but if we use the term for every incident that does not make us happy personally, the word will become a white noise. The mere implication that our principal has turned a blind eye to these outrageous accusations is not only fallacious but defamatory and tarnishing to an individual who has given nearly two decades of service to the students of Stephen Decatur High School. I challenge you to find a handful of students in a 1,400-student school who would side with these contemptible remarks.
It is obvious that this/these individuals have “an ax to grind” and this is not the forum for it. Furthermore, it appalls me to know that this/these individuals can place an advertisement of this magnitude and destruction in a newspaper, include names of people who have families and careers at stake and be so cowardice as to not include their own names. The term credibility comes to mind.
The delivery of these accusations, whether true or not, is the most cowardice presentation known in journalism. To openly in public name names and make unsubstantiated facts and damage the character of these people and not sign your name and hide behind an organizational name is vile.
These individuals have the right to face these allegations before openly spewing these “facts” in public. If they are exonerated, the damage is already done. Readers will only remember the names and the full page paid advertisement. If this organization is concerned, going to the media is not the proper immediate solution. Perhaps the school board is the first contact. Does Dr. Andes know of these allegations? This advertisement is a low blow to all those mentioned. If proved false, their reputations are irreparably harmed for years.
By the by, my son played JV and varsity for both coaches, with Lou Taylor often at practice and games. He was castigated when needed and praised when needed. He was benched when needed. They made him a better player and molded him into the man he is today.
As a regular reader of The Dispatch, I have enjoyed what I considered your thorough treatment of local news and community events. Your obvious interest in the people and happenings of northern Worcester County have made your paper a pleasant and informative "read". That is until today.
On page 23B, you published a paid advertisement filled with allegations, which defame the characters of some educators at Stephen Decatur High School. The libelous content of these accusations is made even worse because the writers, while specifically naming others, did not have the courage to sign their own names. This is the action of cowards, and I am extremely disappointed in you for printing this.
We live in a country where people are considered innocent until proven guilty. The publication of these allegations could harm the reputations of these long-time educators simply by being in print, and that amounts to trial by media. Shame on you!
You have just lost a faithful reader.
Mary Lou Jones
Today I write with a plea for our community. I plead for understanding, compassion, bravery and love. I have been incredibly saddened at the level of hatred and fear that has been shown over the controversial ad taken out in the Maryland Coast Dispatch. I have read the ad and the backlash of comments.
What strikes me is that we are ignoring the fact that bullying is an issue. I want to clearly state that I do not agree with the personal attacks on Mr. Ferro, Mr. Magaha and Mr. Taylor. These three men should never have been targeted because the problem of bullying in our community does not fall on their shoulders. It falls on our entire community and culture. The first issue that saddens me is hatred and bullying that is being directly targeted at the Maryland Coast Dispatch and Editor Steve Green.
The Dispatch has always been, and still is, an unbiased and reliable local news source in our area. I hear people talk of the “article” from The Dispatch. This was never an article, it was a paid advertisement. I can understand why people are upset, however, the First Amendment is Freedom of Speech, Press, Religion and Petition. I truly believe it is our most important amendment. Mr. DiBuo, who took out the ad, was clearly upset and hurt at what he perceived as inaction and used his First Amendment rights, through legal outlets to express his concerns. So, I plead to our community for understanding and compassion towards a man who only wanted to protect and support his child. I also plead compassion and understanding for The Dispatch, whose job and responsibility is to allow all people in our community to exercise their First Amendment rights. I would never want to see our community target teachers or fire respected and beloved educators. I have been uplifted at the way our community has surrounded and protected these teachers. I have also been concerned that we seem to be choosing ignorance in our eagerness to protect our beloved school system. I plead that we choose bravery and love so that we may come together, as a united community and recognize that bullying surrounds us and comes from a variety of different avenues. Children do not learn bullying from each other, they learn it from our culture. They learn it from TV, magazines, books, video games, and yes, from parents and teachers. It will be painful and difficult to honestly recognize how ingrained bullying is in our entire society, from the playground to adulthood. My entire life I have been accused of being an idealist, as if it is a disease. I have been told that life is unfair, and we have to prepare students for the harsh realities of life. I disagree. It is our responsibility to teach the younger generations that a better world, a just world without bullying is possible; if we choose to create it. But that is the catch. We have to create it. This is not about the bullies or those who suffer. It is about all us because we are responsible, for all of it. Bullying is a spectrum from physical abuse to equally dangerous indifference. When we do nothing we let indifference seep into one more child’s heart. Let’s create something better. Whitney Palmer Bishopville
I feel as if I owe it to my coaches (Richard Ferro and Garrett Magaha) and to myself to respond to this advertisement. After taking some time to read and digest the advertisement, I was left in shear disbelief and anger in regards to the statements made about my former coaches.
I played four years of high school baseball at Stephen Decatur under the guidance and coaching of both Garrett Magaha and Rich Ferro. In my years with them, not only did they help me grow as a player enough to play college baseball, but together they took it upon themselves to take it to personally make sure that I was able to receive a scholarship to play Division 1 baseball at St. Josephs University. Not only did both coaches help me on the field, but they made an even deeper commitment to me off the field. I was lacking guidance in my home life and both Ferro and Magaha were more than just a coach to me. They took time out of their own personal schedules to make sure they did everything they could to ensure that I was able to succeed in life. Ferro even accompanied me on my official visit to St. Josephs and made sure that I was staying on top of my school work so that my grades were at par with the requirements to receive a scholarship. I wouldn’t consider them baseball coaches, but a life coach when my parents weren’t there to help.
I have personally seen from both of them, their commitment to education and coaching. What I think that most people don’t realize is that they don’t coach baseball for the monetary benefit, they do it for the intrinsic value they gain from it. Watching young teenagers grow into men both on and off the field is what they gain. Win or lose, they were behind you and only wanted the best for everyone, they know that not everyone was playing to make it to the next level, but for the excitement of being a part of something bigger than yourself. I would have never attended college let alone play four years of college baseball if it wasn’t for them, not only I am grateful for what they me and many others, I feel as if I am in debt to them for the multiple ways they helped me succeed off the field more than any skills I learned on the field.
I have spoken to a handful of players that I played with in high school and they were all equally as baffled by these outrageous statements. I am sure that there are many, many others that feel the same way I do about both of these dedicated educators. I hope that the opinions of one disgruntled advertisement doesn’t ruin what they have done in their careers for hundreds of young men. Again, I feel as if I owe it to them to share my concern and hope that others are willing to share their experience in the effort make sure that their legacy isn’t defined by one unhappy statement.
I am appalled at the uproar over a recent ad in The Dispatch. I happened to be having dinner in Berlin on Friday at The Globe and overheard what appeared to be a group of teachers discussing the ad.
I do not know the teachers or the coaches, as my kids have long left our nest. I do, however, read The Dispatch every week. I consider it an upstanding paper that prints the facts and both sides in its articles.
These teachers were discussing suing the paper. They said they would not win, but just wanted to bankrupt the paper for allowing the ad to run and degraded its editor and his family. Wow, what an example they are setting.
This was not a story, but an ad taken out by a parent. Talk about shooting the messenger, get the facts folks. This reminds me of the Salem Witch hunts. I am ashamed of what I heard. Put the children first and perhaps at least consider that bullying is happening. It’s everywhere.
I would like to take this opportunity to respond to the parent or group of parents who paid for the disgraceful full-page ad in the May 11 issue of The Dispatch.
Parent involvement does not mean that we interfere with the jobs that our coaches are doing because your child is not getting the play time you think he/she deserves, this type of behavior is egotistical. Bullying is a serious issue but you do the same in your full-page advertisement when you embarrass and humiliate these coaches/teachers and principal in such a public manner to make yourself seem significant.
I also take great offense that you accuse Principal Lou Taylor of being a participant in your misleading advertisement. Principal Taylor has dedicated nearly two decades of his life to the students of Stephen Decatur High School and is dedicated to the Anti-Bullying Program already established in the school system. You would be hard pressed to find a handful of students out of the 1,400 students who would side with your despicable remarks.
Furthermore, I have to question your credibility in taking out a full-page ad that is meant to publicly disgrace and humiliate these educators but you lack the courage to sign your own name, but that’s how bullies operate.
West Ocean City
My husband and I are both graduates of Stephen Decatur. Reading through The Dispatch over the weekend, we were saddened to see the advertisement on page 23B entitled, “Is your child being bullied by a coach, teacher or student? Do you want help?” We both felt compelled to respond.
My husband Doug played football at Stephen Decatur High School for four years and went on to play at the collegiate level at Georgetown University. He would tell you the lessons he learned on the Decatur field about respect, hard-work, leadership, dedication and teamwork have carried throughout his life. They carried him through his college years and have continually influenced him throughout his career at Bank of America.
My experience, as a new student who moved to the area my freshman year, was a positive one. There are so many teachers who helped shape me into who I am today and who influenced both my career and my time at Clemson University. I will not forget the kindness of the faculty or the students who not only welcomed me into their community but made me feel like a valued part of it. I was blessed with teachers who were open and respectful to their students and encouraged an environment based on tolerance, respect and personal growth.
Our memories are positive and the culture at Stephen Decatur was a dynamic one, full of success and failure, triumph and loss. Did we face failure? Yes. Did we have bad days? Yes. Was someone often better than us at one subject or another? Yes. Was practice always fun? No. Was it always easy? No. Were we always the best one on the team? No. Was some of the feedback tough to hear? Yes. Were we told that we were perfect? No, because we weren’t and we walked away better because of it.
For those adults involved in the advertisement, willing to print the names of those you felt have completed the offenses listed, I have to ask — where are your names? Is it also a form of adult bullying to intentionally seek to hurt the careers and reputations of other adults without facing any repercussions yourselves?
Bullying is a serious issue and our hearts go out to any child who faces it. But we challenge you to not only point the finger at school officials, coaches and teachers but also back at yourselves. Good behavior starts at home. It starts with individual kids who welcome not only their best friends into group activities but who also welcome those students who might otherwise be left out. A hotline and email address where parents and children can report bullying incidents is a good start but it should be run by responsible adults who do not commit the very offence they are trying to discourage. We believe there is a better way to approach this issue. Public humiliation is not one of them.
Lou Taylor was our principal when we attended Stephen Decatur. He has connected with thousands of students over the years who believe in him and who know what he stands for. To us, Lou Taylor will always be a leader who fostered a positive, safe learning environment. Under his leadership, Stephen Decatur was a place that encouraged individual strengths and differences. We stand behind him and the faculty at Stephen Decatur and do not believe the advertisement was an accurate description of what Stephen Decatur does for the student body. It is often through our own struggles that we learn the most; some of our toughest critics are often the ones that teach us the most valuable lessons.
We learned several life lessons while at Stephen Decatur. Some were learned on the field and others in the classroom but all of them prepared us for life and the possibilities ahead.
Sara Helms-Gray & Doug Gray
Our family is disappointed that The Dispatch would run an ad, which simply sounded like one disgruntled parent, upset that their child did not get playing time. This is a small town and everyone quickly heard who put the ad in your paper. This is a family with a history of vocal complaining and filing lawsuits.
Our two children played several sports at Stephen Decatur. Their experiences were overall positive and we stayed out of it, just went to watch and cheer them on. We are extremely disappointed with the ad and this whole situation. Can’t say that we would recommend anyone advertise in your paper anymore.
Sarah and Chris Tilghman
Our son graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2006. He participated in several sports and other clubs and organizations while a student.
I felt compelled to respond to the ad regarding bullying that recently appeared in your paper.
In the four years that I attended all of the activities (and there were many), I have never witnessed anything but caring, compassion and nurturing of these students by the teachers.
I for one, feel grateful that we live in the area that we do and have our wonderful school system.
I applaud the teachers who have spent countless hours away from their families so that our children may thrive both on and off the field.
My only regret is that Mr. Taylor is moving on, but I know that he will lead Worcester County schools onto greater things and I have full confidence in his replacement.
Kudos to Mr. Taylor, teachers and staff at SDHS — keep up the good work.
This letter is in response to an ad placed in The Dispatch regarding bullying by the coaches at Stephen Decatur High School. I’ve been lucky enough to have had three student athletes at the school who have played a variety of sports. I’ve attended all of their games and as many practices as possible and I’ve always been impressed by the quality and professionalism of the coaches.
As the father of a freshman baseball player, I’ve known Rich Ferro since he coached my sons 9U travel team and was very disturbed when I read an ad questioning his character. I watched Rich coach 9 -year-olds to play the game the way it’s played at the high school level (pitching from the stretch, leading off, stealing, cut offs and bunt rotations). Coach Ferro never showed frustration or raised his voice, he just taught.
I looked forward to my son playing for Rich when he got to Decatur because of the qualities I saw in him. I have not been disappointed. The harshest comment I’ve heard Rich say was, we have to make plays. Watching his entire staff coach this team has not only been a great experience, but a fun one also. Whether it’s practice or a game, they teach, coach and support these players in a upbeat manner.
Having played sports from the time I was 8 years old through four years of college I would have loved to have had the quality of coaching I’ve seen at Decatur. To all the coaches and administration at Stephen Decatur, in particular Coach Ferro, Coach Magaha, Coach Olson and Coach Riley, thank you for the outstanding job you do.
One disgruntled parent (and that’s what this is) shouldn’t harm the reputation of these dedicated people.