By now you probably know that Lake Forest High School Principal Dr. Chala Holland released a single on Spotify. You may also know that Fox 32 reported on it, featuring the statements of several alarmist parents. The majority of the parents stated concerns about “our girls” and the message it sends to them. This should not have made the news, but it did.
As a 17-year-old female student of LFHS, I can safely say that the message it sends is quite the opposite of what these parents and Fox 32 suggest that it is.
Dr. Holland is very well-liked and well-respected among the students of LFHS. Seeing her take the chance–and to have the profound courage–to create a piece of art, despite the possibility of negative reactions, is inspiring. The message this song imparts on students, male or female, is to follow your passions, live your dream, be yourself, and don’t obsess over how people who know nothing about you will perceive you.
I actually attend Lake Forest High School, so unlike the parents and reporters of Fox News, I can speak to how the students are responding. The students think it impressive and respect Dr. Holland even more because of her willingness to be an artist, express herself, and define herself as an authentic person, not just a conveyor of educational facts or an unapproachable higher-up in charge of strictly making decisions. I have spoken to countless classmates and friends and not once have I heard: “this makes me uncomfortable,” “she shouldn’t be acting like this,” or “this is distracting from our education.” Instead, I have heard, “wow, I respect her,” “those parents should get over it,” and “I never knew she had a passion for music.” What students appreciate is being unique, being creative, and being brave. Furthermore, most of our parents do not see this song as a problem; the parents quoted in the news were a small sample whose opinions do not accurately reflect a majority of parent’s responses. So Fox 32, if you want an accurate representation of how students are reacting, maybe consider asking a student. After all, we’re old enough to speak for ourselves.
I realize that not every student at LFHS is an adult. Having been there, I realize that different students handle situations like this with varying levels of maturity. However, suggesting that this is somehow corrupting our young minds or inappropriate is simply wrong. This song is not “very graphic,” a gross misrepresentation perpetuated by the parents being interviewed that showed up on our television last night. We live in a world with constant media bombardment of sexual, illicit, and violent material. This song is not an example of that. It is artistic and innocent compared to any other rap or pop song that is played daily on the radio. To think that these lyrics are setting a bad example or encouraging bad behavior is ridiculous. We see our own parents drink wine, smoke cigars, and more, every day. A grown woman is legally allowed to do those things. Neither the cover photo, nor the lyrics are inappropriate for a song by any reasonable standards.
Saying that this is harmful to female students is, in my own opinion, sexist and illogical. Female students see Dr. Holland as a strong role model who is confident in who she is and is devoted to making our school the best it can be. We are perfectly capable of forming our own opinions and controlling our own behavior. We do not appreciate parents in this community telling us that we need to be shielded from this content. To me, spearheading that movement is demeaning and unnecessary.
In addition, bringing the upcoming school board election and Dr. Holland’s “controversial hiring” into this is a thinly veiled attempt by parents who are unfairly and obviously biased against Dr. Holland to use this media coverage to serve their own agenda. The rhetoric that we students heard from parents who opposed hiring Dr. Holland was was far more disturbing than the content of these lyrics. Having a passion for music does not make you unfit to be the principal of a high school. On the contrary, Dr. Holland is a qualified and excellent principal who Lake Forest is lucky to have. Using this song to attack her ability to principal is not right and, to me, represents an immaturity that is not setting a good example for our students. Parents of Lake Forest: If you are so concerned about setting good examples for students, let it start with your own behavior.
If you insist on bringing the school board into this, then this is what I suggest: 18 year old students of Lake Forest High School and community members, educate yourselves on the candidates for this upcoming election and vote accordingly. This election does affect us, so make your voice heard.
And lastly, I can assure you that no one is calling it “Chala’s hot new beat.”
This story originally was published in The Forest Scout, the school news website at Lake Forest High School. The author, Elizabeth Porter, is a junior at LFHS and the communications director and editorial writer for The Forest Scout. You can find more of her writing here.
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