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LETTERS / Just the Opinion of One Citizen Regarding the ‘The House of the Spirits’ WHS Book Challenge

Feb. 26, 2014. Dear Board of Education,

I have been a citizen of Watauga County since 1972. I attended Watauga High School, as well as Appalachian State University. One of the reasons that I elected to stay in Boone for college and to raise my family here was the sense of community. I have always felt our county to be one that welcomed people from different places with different ideas. We have had our minor disagreements on occasion, but nothing so dividing as the issue surrounding ‘The House of the Spirits’ by Isabel Allende. I am greatly saddened to see our county so polarized.

As a WHS graduate, I cannot recall my parents or myself ever taking issue with any books that I was asked to read. Some of my favorite classes were English. Whether I was asked to read ‘The Scarlet Letter’ or parts of Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’, I was guided through them with both compassion and professionalism. Although some of the ideas may have been foreign and exposed me to topics that I was not familiar with, they expanded my view of the world allowing me see outside of the small mountain community in which I lived. No matter the subject, I always felt safe and comfortable discussing them in classroom. This sense of security helped me feel confident enough to ask my parents questions about topics that may otherwise have been answered by my not so knowledgeable peers.

Now, as a parent with a recent WHS graduate and a rising Senior, I had and continue to have every confidence that my children were and are being taught by well educated, compassionate, and competent teachers. As an individual and a citizen of this county, I DO NOT agree that we should have a committee that can create standards for book selections. I am appalled by the idea or suggestion that certain groups of individuals should have the power to dictate the choices of others. In my experience, WHS teachers have been doing a wonderful job in their teaching and book selections for 25 years and I am sure longer.

I feel that this issue has become mired in a political and religious morass and we, as a community, have lost sight of the educational needs of our students. I find this entire conflict to be ridiculous and am tired of our wonderful county being made to look the same. It is my sincere hope that once this issue is resolved, our community will be able to return to a county of acceptance, a county that I used to be able to say I was proud to call home.

Thank you for your thoughtfulness in deciding this issue. 

Shana Lewis