Students at the San Jacinto Christian Academy high school in Amarillo have expressed concerns about required attendance at the upcoming State of the City Address.
On Wednesday, Mayor Ginger Nelson will deliver a speech at the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts for the second annual “State of the City Address.” The address has become commonplace in many cities nationwide, with Nelson reviving the annual event in Amarillo last year.
Students at San Jacinto Christian Academy say administrators at the school are requiring students to attend the event, with those who do not attend being threatened with impacts on their grades in two courses. Students interviewed said only high school seniors are being required to attend.
One student, who chose to remain anonymous, said he feels students are being used at the event to manufacture support for Nelson.
“I feel like it’s corrupt and coercive,” the senior said. “I really don’t appreciate the fact that students are being used to push [a] political/economical agenda…”
Dennis Smith, the principal of the private school’s high school wing, said he feels that students should be involved in the community and in government, regardless of who is in power.
“I would be disappointed in that,” Smith said, responding the comments made by the students. “It has little to do with this person or that person. It's more about civic responsibility.”
Smith also said while he has not been approached by any students who have said they feel uncomfortable attending the event, he would be willing to find an alternative route of civic participation if students were unwilling or unable to attend Nelson’s speech.
“They can do something else,” Smith said. “I’ve never had time I wouldn't be able to talk to a student.”
On Monday evening, Nelson announced San Jacinto students would be attending the event in a post to her public Facebook profile.
“This is such a fantastic way to raise up leaders in our community,” Nelson said on Facebook.
“Thank you for the shout out, Mayor Ginger Nelson,” the official San Jacinto Facebook page said in response to Nelson’s post. “We can't wait for the State of the City address.”
Nelson will host the event on Wednesday morning at the Globe News Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are available at Amarillo City Hall.