Anyone else remember when it was fundraising time at their elementary school? You'd be ushered into the auditorium, where a motivational speaker type stood before you shouting into a microphone about all the big prizes you'd win if you sold six boxes of candy or a bunch of bad magazines. Like a magician at a kid's party, he'd end his act by throwing candy and stickers out onto the audience and it was all the fuel you needed to become determined to sell the most crap you could.
A principal at an impoverished NYC school must have used the same magic because it seems fur-wearing, BMW-driving Marcella Sills -- who sounds like a Disney villain based on the accounts of people who know her -- got parents to shell out lots of money so she could throw a lavish, totally weird party in which the dress code required her fifth grade students to dress up as mini brides and grooms.
According to reports, Sills has hosted an annual "prom" for the last three years at an expensive catering hall and she requires that parents pay $110 for their kid to attend the event. Students must also adhere to a dress code that calls for the girls to wear white wedding gown-type dresses and for boys to rent tuxedos with tails. Sills allegedly picks out the outfits herself. The principal has been known to show up to the prom wearing a white long gown with elbow-length gloves.
It's important to note that the school she runs is known as the "school of no" because it is so impoverished it lacks textbooks, a nurse's office, and art and gym classes. The city's Chancellor is currently investigating the claims against Sills.
I can't help but wonder why parents would agree to waste such an absurd amount of money on a nonsense event when they barely have the funds to cover basic, necessary school expenses like notebooks and writing supplies? Did Sills create a sort of "peer pressure" among parents to go with the flow and not be the only ones keeping their kids from attending the big expensive prom?
I attended private school when I was a kid and remember being asked to sell magazines or pay an exorbitant amount of money to take part in a school trip. My parents could afford the things that were asked of them, but chose not to pay most of the time -- unless it was for something they felt would be a worthwhile and educational experience.
They were appalled by how my school "shamed" us into shelling out money by doing things like promising dress-down days to only the kids who sold a certain number of magazines. I was always one of the only kids wearing my uniform during the entire fund-raising period. I was a little embarrassed at the time, but looking back, I get what they were fighting against. And I will probably do the same when it comes time for my own children to attend school.
If the claims against this principal are true, she should be ashamed at herself for making families feel even worse about their economic situation. There's no reason why she couldn't just host a simple dance party at her school to celebrate her fifth graders' achievements.
Do you think this principal had the right to ask parents to spend so much money on a prom or should she have taken their economic needs into consideration?
Image via Rob Young/Flickr