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Wellesley High School Engulfed By Anger Of Threatened Parents



The Town of Wellesley is quiet and nice. But in the past week it has shown a new face, a tense, grim face-the result of a play presented memorial Day in the public high school: But the furor in Wellesley extends far beyond anger over the lines of the play and touches a basic fear felt by the community as a whole since the beginning of the year.

An excerpt from LeRoi Jones' play The Slave, including a rape scene and several "four-letter words," set off a chain of shocked and protective anger from parents which culminated in two court subpoenae for teachers involved with the presentation, the arrest of one high school senior, and a near-hysterical school board meeting with over 1000 tense town citizens attending.

For the angry parents, the immediate issue is how such a play came to be presented, who was responsible, and how it can be prevented in the future. Principal Samuel Graves, whose decision it was to let the play continue, assured both parents and television cameras at the Tuesday evening school board meeting that as long as he was principal of the school system there would be no repetition of the incident. That may be the end of the problem. But it is not likely.

marijuana Bust

A previous uproar over a marijuana bust in the high school early this year had already upset the townspeople. They are increasingly convinced that their children are being corrupted in the high school, and they do not know what to do about it.

A very active METCO program, bussing ghetto blacks to the all-white wealthy suburban school, is equally controversial. One of the three black residents of the town, Mrs. Betty Powell, spoke at the school committee meeting, saying that the man sitting directly behind had advised, "If you don't like it, why don't you go back to Africa?"

In Wellesley, and doubtlessly soon in in other places, middle class people will strike out defensively at their own schools and teachers. They wish that the schools were turning their children back towards them, and instead it is the place where they make the contacts with others that they fail to make with them.

Through soul and hard rock, METCO and Columbia, and repeatedly brought home by Time, Life and Newsweek, the parents of Wellesley are realizing that they are no longer sure where their children are going. They wish they could stop them from moving so fast and so far, and keep them happy and polite in Wellesley.

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