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Herbst Weighs in On 'Rent'

The following comes from First Selectman Tim Herbst:

Over the past week, I have heard from many members of the community concerning the production of Rent: The School Edition. I have heard compelling and passionate arguments from people on both sides of this issue. I have chosen to carefully weigh all factors before offering public comment.

I felt it important to weigh in on this issue because I do not want this decision by our school administrators to become a bigger issue for the wrong reasons. As First Selectman of the Town of Trumbull, my job is to hear what all parties are saying in an attempt to find common ground. Whether our community proceeds with this production should not be a battle of wills. This should be about offering a positive resolution going forward.

I have the highest personal and professional respect for Marc Guarino, Principal of Trumbull High School.  In the short time I have known Marc, I have come to respect him as an educator who places the well-being of children as his highest priority. I agree with Mr. Guarino that decisions like this one should not be made in isolation.  As principal of THS, he should have been consulted before a decision was made. There should be communication and collaboration. The presentation of RENT should be about providing for a dialogue rather than a speech. With proper collaboration execution, RENT should be an educational opportunity that teaches our students and our community about acceptance and responsibility.  It should also teach our children about tolerance at the same time we teach ourselves to better communicate.

I believe there is a positive alternative that addresses Mr. Guarino's valid concerns while at the same time allowing RENT to proceed. Every summer, the Trumbull Youth Association (TYA) offers a summer musical for the community. Many of the Trumbull High School students who participate in our high school theater program are also members of TYA.  Proceeding with this musical in the summer through TYA offers enough time to address the very valid points offered by Mr. Guarino.  It will also allow graduating Trumbull High School seniors the opportunity to perform in this musical before they leave for college. Finally this action will embrace the concept of collaboration, communication and compromise at the same time we try to teach our students the fundamental principles of acceptance, responsibility and tolerance.

It is my sincere hope that this recommendation will establish a dialogue and a workable solution that all of us as Trumbullites can respect.

Thomas Tesoro December 10, 2013 at 10:50 AM
By the way, do we still have a Board of Education? Shouldn't they be the ones resolving this matter?
enness December 13, 2013 at 12:17 AM
I don't have the patience to do more than skim 70+ comments, but I think I have enough coal for everyone 's stocking. - 1) The principal has only been there for five months -- plus they were up for re-accreditation in October, so I'm sure this was not exactly the first thing on his mind. "New guys" can't just learn things by osmosis -- it takes time and communication. I'm not really sympathetic to complaints that the teacher has never had to do XYZ before. Did nobody think there would be any changes with a change of leadership? - 2) Someone who actually worked with this principal at his previous job reports that he was a "vocal" supporter of both the arts and GSAs. This got buried among hundreds of comments on the Trumbull for Rent Facebook page. There is clearly more going on here than meets the eye. Call off the circular firing squad; it makes much of the outrage over bullying look incredibly hypocritical. - 3) Benjamin: I am also a "starving artist." Do I really need to explain the mechanics of how your composing career differs from an STD? Yes, I am content with your trying, but say I gave you my opinion that it was a bad idea -- or, if I knew you and your work personally and tried to dissuade you because I didn't think you have the talent or drive -- how defensive would you get? - 4) As I have said before and will say again, when there are minors involved, censorship is what ANY responsible adult does; the questions are only what, when, how. When we are talking about adults, then I will suffer to entertain your pretentious nonsense about censorship. - 5) On a related note: they're either "innocent children" or they are "wise beyond their years" (basically, short adults). One argument takes the other off the table; I don't want to hear both from the same person. - 6) This is, from what I can tell, an edited version of Rent with much of the potentially offensive stuff removed (in other words, it's already been censored, and the students apparently accepted that situation). Nevertheless, I am sure it is still not a show for all ages. Additionally, there are people who claim they have shown the full version to their young kids already. These people, IMHO, are nuts. - 7) Musicals, even when they deal with real issues, have a long history of being escapist fantasy entertainment (seriously, when was the last time your street gang broke into a spontaneous song-and-dance number?). - 8) To state with seriousness that because I have never bought a ticket to see the musical Rent, it has had no impact on my life or the world I live in is laughable beyond belief. - 9) I don't use my full, real name much on the internet for good reasons. The opinions are the same. Deal. The opinions are also the same regardless of who I am friends with, and I run in circles that are much more liberal than I am. If they're really friends, they already know how I feel and will respect me for not changing everything to kiss up to them. - 10) 'I'm sure you've read "the lion shall lie down with the lamb, and a little child shall lead them."' I think it was DV who said this -- whoever it was, (s)he needs to go back and read the whole passage again. If you think it was meant to describe a scenario that would probably be ever reality on this planet during our lifetime...LOL, you're going to be very disappointed. Context, context, CONTEXT. Someone here evidently feels my pain: http://theologicallyspeaking.com/2010/08/26/please-stop-saying-and-a-little-child-shall-lead-them/ - Is that enough or should I open another can?
enness December 13, 2013 at 12:30 AM
We can haz paragraphs? Pleez?
enness December 13, 2013 at 12:59 AM
One last thing: the big victory that some of you are crowing about was not won fair and square, because it was never put to a vote, and you know it. If you think it's a mere formality, I invite you to try.

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