All Things Bally

Published: June 3, 2020

Principals Message

We will not be updating you too often during the summer, but we also don't want to fall off the face of the Earth either. Below we'll address a few things that we've been getting questions about or that you may be wondering. We work all summer with vacation days dispersed here and there. The office, proper, is open all summer with the exception of July 3. Our hours are 7am to 2:30pm.

Erika Bowles, Principal

James Demetrakis, Assistant Principal

Equity, Race, and Black Lives Matter

I addressed this topic on social media over the weekend and as I'm returning to work on this beautiful Wednesday after a couple of days of respite (aka vacation), it's time to address our viewpoint on the race discussions permeating our news media, our streets, our homes, and our minds because these conversations have and will occur in our hallways and in our classrooms.

Our population at Ballyshannon is 88% white. That means that 12% of our kids live in a school world where they are the minority day in and day out. For the most part, our white students are tolerant and kind in regards to issues surrounding race. I would say also for the most part, our white students don't recognize the privilege they have of having white skin. Contrary, our black and brown students recognize that they don't have this privilege every day.

Since we have been open, we have had racial issues surface throughout both years. Very, very few of these issues are deliberate or intentionally meant to harm. To be clear, some have been. But for the most part there are statements made or there are actions taken that are offensive to black and brown students and are actions taken based on ignorance, misunderstanding, or really...just the privilege of being white and being able to say and do the things that we white people have grown accustomed to saying and doing as a part of American culture.

We have been talking about how to approach this topic seriously for the past 6 months. With the state of the country, we can no longer just keep talking. We need ALL of our students to know that we support ALL of our students and we will no longer be reactive as a school community. The time for proactive support and education is now.

Our staff is beginning a deep dive into understanding white privilege, what microaggressions are, why it's offensive to say, "I don't see color" (if you're white and you're saying...wait...I thought that meant I wasn't too, but I learned better), why it's not okay to ask to touch non-white hair (would you tolerate people approaching you and petting your hair?), why the N word is not okay and where it originated, and on and on. We have a summer of learning ahead of us. These are all pieces of our history and pieces of our culture and things that as adults we have to have a better understanding of because we do educate black and brown children who are counting on us to know better and to do better AND because we educate white children who also deserve to understand history and current events and how it affects them as a human and the black and brown people they know as people.

During 8th grade, our students study US History. Racism is a part of US History. Slavery is a part of US History. Revolution is a part of US History. Emmett Till is a part of US History. US History is not all white. US History includes significant contributions to our world by black and brown people. That's not something we will wash from our studies.

Our 8th graders are asked to read one of two books that deal with race during the summer.

  • Long Way Down is prose written by Jason Reynolds, an acclaimed black male author that relates well to students of middle and high school age. His book is odd and deals with tough issues like gun violence and revenge and race and supernatural. But his book is so good because it deals with determining your values as a human, analyzing decisions made and weighing pros and cons, the idea that your ancestors have information that you can learn from, the idea that emotions can override logic and vice versa. There is language in the book that we wish wasn't there, but the content is too good to pass up.

  • Ghost Boys is written by a black female, Jewell Parker Rhodes, who is an acclaimed professor, author, and creative director. Ghost Boys addresses race, living in poverty, and police brutality. These are tough subjects, but they are current and they are real and they are important if we are going to understand one another better. It's hard to read. But if we turn away from everything that's hard we compromise our mission to instill critical thinking skills in our kids. Our goal is NOT to tell kids how to think. Our goal is to give kids information and then give them space and time to process the ideas critically. We want them to become adults that do this well. We know that's what industry relies on.

The text from either book is relevant to kids ages 13 and 14. We've been asked by a couple of parents to change our titles. We won't do this as a school. The content is important, now more than ever. However, if you personally feel as though your child cannot read information about racism, poverty, gun violence, police aggression then we understand and we respect your wishes. You may choose another book. We will not, however, censor the conversations that will be had surrounding these topics within our walls because they are current events and they are our history as a nation. We will support conversations with fact. We will push students to think deeply. We will create a safe environment where kids can process tough information.

We encourage every parent to have discussions with their kids often about the state of the world, your viewpoint on it, and discussions about other viewpoints. Your child comes in contact with hundreds of people every day at school with many different viewpoints. You should not ever assume that they don't hear things contrary to your beliefs. In a hallway, on social media, in a classroom, during sports practice, on the local news. Our staff is instructed to keep their personal beliefs private so as not to unduly influence your children, but this does not meant that we don't create a safe environment to support open dialogue about the world.

Black Lives Matter at our school. Not more than White Lives. Equal to. Our point is this...All lives do matter and the narrative in the public right now is not a means of saying every life but black lives doesn't matter. It's an effort to bring to light the fact that the most marginalized in our society also matter because for so long they have experienced bias and discrimination. Our black and brown kids need to know that we see and hear them and we're better preparing to be able to support them better moving forward.

If you are a minority parent and you'd like to contribute to our efforts to become better educated on matters of race as a school staff, we encourage you to reach out. We would love to partner with you.

Back to School Transition

As of today's date, we don't have a return plan solid or in place or ready to discuss. There are representatives from our district participating in a NKY regional discussion and planning session about reopening our schools. Mr. D. and I are awaiting guidance from those above us so we can create the school-level plans. When we have information, we won't hold it from you. You will be the next to know after we know.

Summer Reading

Please check out our summer reading site. All students have two books to read this summer.


6th Grade Orientation

There absolutely will be a 6th grade orientation. We don't know if this will be online, in person in small groups, in person individually??? We really don't know yet. As soon as we know, we'll be sure to let you and your kids know.

20.21 School Supplies

Our school supply list is published and you can absolutely start shopping. If I had a kid in school I might hold off a bit, though, to see what the back to school transition looks like.


We are not selling supply kits. We sold just a handful last year and the return on investment was too low to continue.

Fall Sports

Currently, all sports are suspended until June 30. This includes practices and tryouts. Our district athletic directors will be meeting this month to discuss fall sports. When we have info about girls volleyball, dance team, and cheer tryouts we'll be sure to let you know.