Regarding Bob Norman's article on the teenage carnage taking place in Coral Springs ("Backyard Bloodbath," April 5 and 12), I don't know which is more shocking, the self-destructive acting out of these boys or the spectacle of this mother who is so neglectful that she's not even present when her sons are risking breaking their necks.
It is probably to gain attention and esteem from these neglectful parents that the boys are staging these events. The father is a joke as well, apparently knowing what is going on yet failing to put limits on the behavior or even being there when his sons purposely damage their bodies.
While these teenagers may feel invincible, as teens do, once they hit middle age, they're going to have much more than their share of aches and pains. Their elder years will be hell, if they make it that far.
A bath is needed:
I had two problems with "Backyard Bloodbath." First I was extremely offended that you chose to publish an article using four-letter language. It is never necessary to use the offending words.... It is a simple matter to give the first letter and [follow it with] dashes. We all know what that means, but it allows us to share the story and the lessons it purports to teach with our kids. Second I think the photography used was totally and unnecessarily graphic. I believe you can make your point without resorting to gratuitous violence and offensive language. You asked the question, "What inspires young wrestlers to mutilate themselves with tacks and barbed wire? TV or dear old dad?" Well, my friends, it is you and stories like this that give kids the bizarre ideas they have today. Take responsibility and clean up your act!
A fan letter...:
What an important story. How brave of the reporter and photographer to bring this story to the public. This must be stopped. The graphic photos by Colby Katz were hard to look at, and yet without them the impact would not have been nearly as great.
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... and hate mail:
I wrote a letter to New Times regarding the "EFW" and you published it in the April 12 issue. Under my name (Nicholas Mayberry), you have the following: "Hardcore Champion Wrestling." First of all, it's Hardkore... with a k. Second of all, it's Hardkore Championship Wrestling, not "Hardcore Champion Wrestling." First you can't deliver a good story, now you can't even deliver the proper information.
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First a kid...:
My name is Jennifer Traveis, and I am a student at Apollo Middle School. I think that the column you wrote about my school was very rude ("We Have a Problem," Emily Bliss, March 29). I am 14 years old and in the eighth grade. My school may not be the best school, but it is very good. First I would like to address the topic about Mrs. [Lesa] Parnham. She is one of the best teachers at our school; she's always there when anyone needs her and is a great influence on every student. As for her personal business, which you printed in the article, I think that was no one's business but her own, and I think that you guys invaded her personal privacy.
As for the other things you said about my school: Our school is not all that dirty; custodians clean it every day. I know that is more times than most of you clean your house. Our bathrooms are nothing like you said they are. All of the stalls have doors and locks. I think the way you're making our school look is horrible. You're putting our school and the people who attend and work there in an uncomfortable position. Apollo has great things like performing arts, an elective class where you work all year and then put on a play at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Also we have an algebra honors class for exceptional students. Thank you for your time.
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... then a teach...:
This is my fifth year as a math and science English as a second language teacher (I am also certified in Spanish) and second year at Apollo Middle School. I have attended almost all PTSA [Parent Teacher Student Association] meetings; never have any of the management problems you mentioned been brought up. By contrast, in one PTSA meeting, Ms. Maria Farrell, PTSA president, gave a plaque of recognition to the head custodian for the great job his people have been doing. Also, I can testify to the reasons why many of the teachers have left: promotion, hardship, personal problems, and relocation did not have anything to do with Mrs. Zekofsky's leadership.
As the ESOL department head, I need constant interaction with the principal, and I have found her to be the ultimate professional. I was really troubled by the way you characterized her. A person who knows Mrs. Zekofsky would see that she is always smiling and in a friendly, helpful mood. How can you listen to nine teachers who have come forward to air their problems and somehow draw an inference that this is a universal dislike of her? Mrs. Zekofsky has nothing but the best interests of our school at heart, and she toils daily to overcome shortfalls in budget, discipline, and parenting. The examples you have used to show poor management skills are flawed. Each of the cases that you bring up has another side to the story. That is called balance.
New Times -- you do have a problem -- Ms. Bliss has steered you way off the course of good judgment and balanced journalism.
... then a well-traveled teach:
I feel compelled to write to you to express my shock, outrage, and total disagreement with the perspectives expressed in your article on Aimee Zekofsky. In my opinion this piece assassinates the character of our principal and casts a shadow over all the hard-working professionals who are dedicated to the education of youngsters who attend our school. Please hear me -- the negative opinions of nine malcontents do not represent the staff of Apollo Middle School!
The personal problems of staff laid out in that article for all the world to see show a total disrespect for our community and the children we serve. Although you criticize the condition of the facility, we applaud the improvements made in the maintenance of the school since Mrs. Zekofsky's arrival three years ago. Your cover sketch of Mrs. Zekofsky demonizes her rather than showing her as the attractive, highly professional middle-school principal she is. I'm afraid you have disgraced yourself and your paper. This is a perfect example of misuse of the power of the press, and it appears this was never to be a balanced, investigative report.
I have been "Teacher of the Year" three times in two different schools in Broward County over the past nine years (including Apollo Middle School last year), as well as a Fulbright Scholar to Africa. I know whereof I speak. We have, in Mrs. Aimee Zekofsky, a young principal who has already shown herself to be a leader who supports her staff and is a totally outspoken advocate for children. She strives to make our school the best it can be -- even though maintaining the status quo seems to be important to a handful of disgruntled staff.
This gutter-level attempt to professionally assassinate a vibrant, talented school administrator has, in turn, galvanized our faculty on her behalf. Sniping in the dark is not the way we do business, and we can't respect your newspaper for doing so.
Mrs. Diana Nusbaum, teacher
Apollo Middle School
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