Editorial: Don't leave theater teacher's legacy hangingShe doesn’t want the standard retirement wristwatch when she makes her final exit from the stage.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
She doesn’t want the standard retirement wristwatch when she makes her final exit from the stage. No, ask retiring Cloquet English/ speech/theater teacher Julie McMerty what she desires and she will tell you she wants something for everyone to enjoy.
She has requested a permanent place to display photos from her 30 years (and more) of directing high school theatrical performances.
Since then, some $1,500 has been raised for the cause and McMerty already has at least 20 professional photos framed and ready to hang.
“It would literally show thousands of former students, preserve memories and would be a fine example of arts in our schools,” she told Cloquet School Board members at Monday’s regular meeting.
The display’s approval, however, has been left hanging in the balance since last fall.
The issue, as board member Ron Gittings put it, is “location, location location.”
McMerty wants the photos to hang where the public can view them and she is vying for the main hallway near the school’s entrance on 18th Street. She said Monday that the request she made last fall has not gotten much attention from administrators.
Cloquet High School Principal Warren Peterson said at the meeting that although he believes “the recognitions need to be there,” he is uneasy about creating a permanent display in the most visible hallway in the school.
“It is the most-seen [hallway] and we use it for revolving things,” he said. “We want to have some flexibility.”
He suggested using two of six trophy cases for the display, but McMerty said she didn’t know how one could arrange the poster-size framed photos in that space.
School board members largely supported the display, but wondered if they were the appropriate ones to make such a decision – so as of Monday night the project was again “left hanging.”
McMerty, who stayed on to teach this semester even though she was scheduled to retire in December, would ideally like to have the matter resolved before her last day.
For a teacher who has given the bulk of her career to Cloquet schools, it doesn’t seem like a lot to ask. Especially when arts programs are routinely placed on the chopping block, finding a respectable, prominent and permanent place to showcase the artistic work of hers and thousands of students would be a solid (not to mention inexpensive) way for the school to show their support.
Cloquet High School administrators should meet with McMerty as soon as possible to get it squared away so she can be sent off with the ovation she deserves.
In the meantime, the clock (or wristwatch she didn’t ask for) continues to tick.