M. SCOTT MORRIS: Show choir fuss speaks well for city

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

I’ve been caught up in education reporter Chris Kieffer’s wall-to-wall coverage of the Calvin Ellis hearing.
In case you’ve missed it – and I suppose that’s theoretically possible – Ellis was terminated from his job as Tupelo High School choir director, and he appealed.
“Team Ellis” members hope to see the termination reversed. Another, unnamed side believes the termination was justified.
Count me among those who think “termination” is too beige a word, and we should use “fired,” “axed” or “canned,” something more in line with the legendary “pink slip” of days gone by. Oddly, “layoffs” is weak, but “laid off” still has appropriate sting.
Kieffer’s live blog reports on Djournal.com are addicting, with the different players giving their versions of events.
It’s almost like reading a transcript of a trial, and I’m impressed by Kieffer’s ability to catch so much detail. He’s probably close to melting the keys on his laptop.
This fuss over show choir is amazing when you think about it. As a former arts and entertainment reporter for the Mighty Daily Journal, I’m used to being impressed by arts programs at THS, thanks to passionate teachers, students, administrators and parents.
In a way, the situation speaks well for Tupelo and its general appreciation for the arts. If good people didn’t care so deeply, there would be no need for such an in-depth process.
Having followed the testimony, I don’t see many winners coming out of this hearing on either side, no matter how it ends.
But I’ve also followed the public comments that accompany Kieffer’s blog posts. Partisans are pulling for different sides, but they seem to agree that somebody deserves to triumph.
Maybe they’re right. I’m glad I don’t have to decide. This is another example of Tupelo being better off because I’m not in the decision-making loop.
This case has taught me that I never want to sue anybody or get sued, and then have to answer prickly questions about my actions and my reasons for those actions.
My state of mind changes quicker than a flea jumping off a griddle.
(For instance, my current thinking goes: Flea jumping off a griddle? Is that the best you can do? Really?)
Also, if I don’t write something down, there’s little chance of it sticking to my gray matter. How many times will a prosecutor accept the words, “I don’t know,” before he or she gets the urge to slap me around?
Seriously, this messy process playing out in our city is uncomfortable for everyone involved.
I still don’t see any clear-cut winners, and hurt feelings are sure to linger, even after a final judgment is rendered.
About the best we can hope for is to learn a lesson or two along the way, so we can do better next time.
Cold comfort, but there you go.
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@journalinc.com.

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