Dear Mr. Vonnegut,
As principal of Stephen R. Perry High School, it is with regret that I inform you that, after considerable reflection and numerous attempts to resolve the situation, I am relieving you of your responsibilities as interim guidance counselor, effective immediately.
We greatly appreciate your stepping in for Mrs. Brookshank as she recovers from oxygen deprivation caused by choking on a fruit sticker. Indeed, to accommodate you, we happily waived our “no smoking” policy, which you have more than readily taken advantage of. However, we can no longer turn a blind eye to your serious lack of judgment in dealing with our students.
To begin, according to numerous reports, your “guidance” has essentially been limited to the following: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” This is not sound career advice, Mr. Vonnegut. Pretending you are a surgeon, no matter how thoroughly imagined, is in no way a substitute for going through the rigorous training and regulatory process.
We have also received complaints that you are heavily biased against post-secondary STEM programs, dismissively telling more than one student, “Science is magic that works.” If there’s one thing that should be dismissed in terms of a career choice, Mr. Vonnegut, it’s magic.
In fact, you have at times seemed to question the very concept of a career. On September 28, you told senior Barry Platowski, “We are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.” As a result, Barry declined to write his SATs and is now talking about taking the year off to “focus on my DJing.”
Initially, we rationalized your unorthodox technique because you were so willingly active in other aspects of school life. We especially appreciated your stint as a substitute history teacher, where you shared your rich knowledge of WWII, though many student now have the mistaken notion that something called “Tralfamadorians” were responsible for the assassination of Adolf Hitler.
In addition, your effusive reading suggestions particularly resonated with the boys, which is a rare delight. “Have you read Kilgore Trout?” I have heard them say, “You should totally read Trout!”
Nonetheless, even extracurricularly I have to question your judgement. Again, we were thrilled that you were willing to chaperone the class trip to the Grand Canyon. But when you told the assembled students, “Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center,” this put many lives at risk. That you followed up with, “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down,” was entirely unacceptable. I don’t care that it was a metaphor, it was neither the time nor the place.
I can go on: On October 11, you told Tanesha Quaid that semicolons are “transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing” and that "If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts.” As a school that celebrates LGBTQ diversity, I find these comments to be regressive and insensitive. And again with the arts bias!
On October 23, you told junior Eileen Purcell, “Yet another moral occurs to me now: Make love when you can. It’s good for you.” This is not career advice, Mr. Vonnegut. It is not advice of any kind for a 16-year-old.
Finally, during your one-on-one meetings, you have made a number of students incredibly uncomfortable as a result of your incessant doodling, many of them anatomical and highly inappropriate. I do not buy your argument, Mr. Vonnegut, that one doodle in particular was “an asterisk.” It clearly was not. Indeed, we have claims by more than one student that you pushed the paper towards them and said, “Here is my picture of an a**hole.”
For all of these reasons along with your unwillingness to modify your behavior after multiple warnings, I am left with no option but to dismiss you as guidance counselor.
So it goes, Mr. Vonnegut. And so do you.
Fred Harvey, Principal
Stephen R. Perry High School