To the school board and administrators of the Napa Valley Unified School District: The reason for this letter is to support the Napa High School football program, its coaches, players, and the families involved regarding the recent hazing incident.
We are retired teachers with a combined 66 years of classroom experience. Nearly all of these years have been in the public school system of California, specifically Nevada County. During our tenure, one of us was a high school teacher and coached two varsity sports. The other was an elementary school teacher and once honored as the Nevada County Teacher of the Year. In our first three years of retirement, we both taught at an international school in Italy.
We have also parented four scholar-athletes, three of whom were NCAA swimmers in college. Proudly, two of our children currently work in “the family business” teaching and coaching at the middle and high school levels. Our second son, Joe Madigan, is a math teacher at Napa High School. He also coaches swimming and baseball. His two oldest children attend Napa High School. We have eight grandchildren and those who are old enough to be involved in sports are very involved in sports. They also range from good to exemplary students academically. Our oldest grandson, Sean Madigan, is an outstanding football player on the Napa High School football team. We are writing this letter because of him.
We would like to tell you about an event we were involved in last fall. We hope you will see, as we did, the very positive ripple effect NHS football had on our community.
Our local high school, Nevada Union, hosted the NHS football team in a pre-league game. Through our son and Coach Mott, we arranged to prepare a pre-game lunch for the visiting team at a local summer camp facility. As we waited for the team to arrive, we were anxiously anticipating a busload of rowdy teenagers hyped-up with pre-game jitters to disembark the bus. We were ready to be embarrassed in front of our friend the camp director. We couldn’t have been more wrong.
The team arrived, stepped off the bus, professionally dressed in khaki pants, blue vests, dress shirts and neckties. They entered the dining hall in an orderly fashion, listened to the directions from the camp chef, and proceeded through the cafeteria line appropriately. During the meal we heard a plethora of politeness! “Please,” “Thank You,” “That was delicious.” After the meal, they responsibly cleared the tables and helped wipe them down. The camp staff was very impressed and the camp cook even invited them back “anytime.” This behavior from the players can only come from quality leadership.
As the game began and our grandson made the first touchdown in the opening minutes, we were proud him. But that wasn’t the highlight of our day. Instead, we found ourselves reflecting on the wonderful impression the Napa High School football program left on our community.
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How did we get from that glorious day at Nevada Union to where we are today? We speculate that when you, the school administrators and board members, first heard of the current infractions you never thought you would be where you are now. A situation seemingly blown way out of proportion.
So, our question is how do you get to a win-win situation where justice is served? First a win-win needs to be defined. We think, simply put, it is where all parties feel justice is served. It is not that the school board or administrators feel they buckled under community pressure. You need to come to your decision with the insight of what it is like to walk in the shoes of the offenders and their parents as well as the shoes of the offended and their parents.
It is time for you, the school board and administrators, to do the right thing. It is imperative to show good moral character and take a clear look at this unfortunate situation with fresh eyes. As educators, you need to figure out a way to turn this into a learning experience for all. This is your foremost responsibility.
We wonder if you asked the students who were hazed and the students who did the hazing and their parents if what’s happening now is a just punishment. Do they want the football team they were part of dismantled? Ask them what they see as a fair and just punishment. That is your job.
In parting, we hope and pray you can find a just and fair solution to this situation and you and the NHS football team can again be outstanding ambassadors for your school and community. If you can do this, we will proudly look forward to sitting on the home team side next fall when Nevada Union comes to Napa.
Bill and Sue Madigan
Nevada City, California