First Amendment right excercised by students


By Janey Saving
February 8, 2000
Logan Daily News (Hocking County, Ohio)


Nelsonville-Yok High School students exercised their right to freedom of speech when they published the second issue of “Lockdown,” an independent publication featuring articles and commentaries written by NYHS students.

Devin Aeh, who is s senior at NYHS and major contributor to the publication, believes in the first amendment rights which compelled her to compile the second edition of the publication. A total of 170 copies of “Lockdown” were distributed after school Monday. A large crowd of supporters were on hand to distribute the publication from a site on private property located across the street from Nelsonville-York High School.

The second issue of “Lockdown” focuses on school issues effecting students on a daily basis. In addition, the second publication addressee a controversy that occurred when the initial publication of “Lockdown” was published in October.

An article which appeared in the first edition of the paper was written by a student opposed to having to attend pep assemblies designed to promote school spirit in anticipation of weekly football games.

The writer, Jacob Thomas, questioned having to miss class to attend the assembly and yell for his class.

He wrote, “They think that they are better than me because they get to wear a uniform with a number on it. (I am only saying this one time: If I get stuck at another one of those blank, blank assemblies, I will be wearing an orange jump suit with a number on it, too.)”

This message was interpreted differently by both students and staff members. Apparently the content of the article was taken out of context and allegedly a note was circulated stating that anyone who was wearing orange on the day of the assembly was a primary target for violence.

The rumor led to increased absenteeism at the high school, as well as the elementary school which is part of the Nelsonville-York School educational complex located in Buchtel.

At a Nov. 2 school board meeting, the board members, along with Tom Gumpf, school district superintendent, addressed a large crowd of visitors who turned out for the meeting to discuss the rumors that had escalated to the point of causing fear among many students and parents.

Aeh wanted to distribute a second issue of the publication immediately to address what she believes was totally misunderstood about the first issue of Lockdown and its alleged link to the rumors of violence. But according to Aeh, Principal Tim Flesher threatened her with a 10-day suspension if she printed another issue of the publication.

Aeh is a 4.0 student and currently valedictorian of her senior class. She was fearful of losing her valedictorian status if she was expelled from school, so she consulted an attorney before completing the second issue of the newspaper.

Members of Free Student Press, a group dedicated to educating students on how the First Amendment applies to them in public schools and promoting independent student publishing as a way for students to make their voices heard, issued a press release at Monday’s event.

Officials with Free Student Press, made up primarily of Ohio University students, said they believe that freedom of speech is essential to American democracy. When school officials deny students this fundamental right, they are doing overall society a great disservice.

“Students are the best judges of what is and is not working for them at school. To silence their voices is to place students in a very vulnerable situation, where school officials cannot be held accountable to the people they are paid to serve. Furthermore, depriving students of the freedom in which they _______ decisions leaves students highly dependent upon outside authority and unprepared to be active participants in a democratic nation,” the organization officials declared.

“The First Amendment of the US Constitution exists to protect from ___________abuse of their positions…”

[Editor’s note, 2/18/13 – This front page story from the The Logan Daily is probably the best newspaper article published on the distribution of Lockdown’s second issue and one of the best on the overall controversy. Whats more, as a sidebar feature also on the front page of its February 8 edition, the Logan Daily re-published the full text of two editorials from the second issue of Lockdown that addressed the rumors of violence – one from Jacob Thomas, the other from Devin Aeh. Unfortunately, however, The Logan Daily does not maintain an online archives, and I only have been able to locate a photocopy of portions of the article and sidebar (pictured above). Hopefully, I will find the missing text and post it soon.]

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