Marek Warszawski

At this Fresno high school, everyone gets an ‘A’ in drama. That’s not necessarily good

Since 1955, they’ve been called the Bullard High Knights.

In 2019, Bullard High Drama Queens might be a more accurate depiction. Quick, someone start an online petition. We need signatures. Stat!

Of the 10 primary public high schools within the Fresno city limits (I’m including Clovis West, Clovis North and Central), only one of them seems to constantly be in the news. And usually not for the most flattering of reasons.

Not sure what it is about Bullard, but on that campus controversies sprout like dandelions.

The latest brouhaha involves the Bullard marching band, which isn’t allowed to practice on the main field. A member posted their complaints at change.org, and so far more than 5,500 people have added their names in support.

Why not? Because sneaker-wearing band members apparently do too much damage to the field, which is also used for football and soccer practice. Sports whose participants wear cleats.

Instead, the band is relegated to an alternative field that is constantly muddy from overwatering.

“We think the (Fresno Unified School District) is treating the band kids like second-class citizens,” parent Tony Raimondo told ABC30. “They’re relegating them to a secondary, second-class field.”

Band members being treated as second-class citizens. Add another log to the Bullard burn pile.

Bullard, in case it slipped your mind, is the same high school known for the viral blackface video created by two junior varsity cheerleaders. The two girls got off with light punishment, which caused even more of a furor and stirred a debate about racism, white privilege and youthful mistakes.

Of course there’s also Terry Slatic, the bull-in-a-china-shop Fresno Unified trustee who indelicately inserted himself in the blackface controversy and could be facing a recall effort for that and other missteps.

Then there have been reports of on-campus fights, including four in one day, prompting principal John Alvarado to send an automated message asking parents and students to “stay calm.”

Alvarado is in his first year at Bullard. Poor guy must be wondering what’s next.

I don’t claim to have any special insight as to what’s going on at Bullard. I don’t have kids that go there or close friends whose kids do. I’m just watching from afar.

But based on the news that school has made in 2019 – and we still have 3 1/2 months on the calendar – you have to question what the priorities are. It certainly doesn’t appear to be educating kids and preparing them for their futures.

Instead we have administrators that don’t let the marching band practice on fields reserved for jocks and a school board trustee who dresses down teenage girls and initiates altercations. To say nothing of the fighting and tense racial climate.

Bullard lists three visual/performing arts teachers in its staff directory, which is a good thing. Everyone on campus deserves an “A” in drama.

Marek Warszawski: 559-441-6218, @MarekTheBee

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Marek Warszawski writes opinion columns on news, politics, sports and quality of life issues for The Fresno Bee, where he has worked since 1998. He is a Bay Area native, a UC Davis graduate and lifelong Sierra frolicker. He welcomes discourse with readers but does not suffer fools nor trolls.
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