Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: Nov. 11


At McMurray, dances are safe, supervised

For the record, at McMurray Middle School dances, our school expectations apply, are communicated clearly and are enforced consistently. We structure a safe, enjoyable and appropriate environment for students. This includes an expectation that students refrain from any inappropriate and/or sexually explicit dancing. Students who do not follow school expectations during the dance are given one reminder, and if behaviors continue, parents are called and the student is asked to leave the dance early.

We welcome and encourage all volunteers at our dances and consistently hold well-organized and well-supervised dances — thanks to our staff, student leadership, PTSA, Site Council and great volunteers.

— Greg Allison, Principal, McMurray Middle School

VHS dances are no more shocking than ours were

Upon reading what Beachcomber editor Leslie Brown and Islander Lisa Betz wrote about grinding at the high school dances, I felt like I should find a fainting couch and break out the smelling salts. What the kids are doing is no different from what’s been going on for centuries — ever since the waltz scandalized proper society in the late 1700s. I feel Brown and Betz are misguided about what is really going on.

When I was a freshman, I hiked 15 miles across the gym to ask Susan Miller to slow dance with me. The feel of my hand around her waist, her body pressed against mine and the smell of her hair was no less erotic than anything seen or felt at a Vashon High School dance.

I had heard about this “shocking” dancing before I chaperoned one, so I talked with my kids about it. When I asked if it was sexual, they both gave me the “dad’s the biggest moron on earth” look and said, “Of course not. It’s just dancing.” They described the dance, so I was prepared for what I saw.

Where Ms. Brown saw a boy “pleasuring himself” (I will ignore the inflammatory and sexist nature of that remark), I saw a boy doing the latest dance. Where Ms. Betz sees a “shocking” display of “sexually explicit behavior,” I see a bunch of kids doing what teens always do — pushing the envelope.

Where others might see “one big, writhing organism,” I saw the most egalitarian style of participatory dancing where you didn’t have to ask someone for a dance, you just showed up in a mass and started grinding.  

As my daughter would say, “Chill!” And be thankful for two things: Your children don’t have to hike a mile across a gym floor to ask someone to dance. And you don’t understand the sexually explicit, misogynistic and often violent lyrics to the songs they’re grinding to. Now that would be truly shocking.

— Chris Ott

Grinding may inhibit girls’ emotional growth

As an off-Island school counselor, the owner of a business focused on the emotional health of pre-teen girls (www.

creative-crossings.com) and a new mom, I find myself bothered by the idea of grinding at dances.


My main gripe is that it may prevent girls from fully inhabiting their bodies.   

I spend a lot of time working with girls on building a positive sense of self-esteem, decreasing relational aggression and celebrating real beauty. It strikes me as a move away from real beauty that instead of dancing for fun and joy, it seems the girls are having something done to them.  Although they may profess to like it, I’m fairly sure there is some type of performance anxiety that is underneath it all.

Lyn Mikel Brown in her excellent article titled, “Twelve Ways to Prevent Girlfighting and Build Girl Allies,” said she believes that bodily awareness and connection and joy of our bodies is paramount to creating emotionally safe schools.

It is my hope that by the time my six-month-old daughter enters high school, she can dance the night away free of grinding.

— Peggy Rubens-Ellis

Dancing begins with music

The euphemism “dancing” was addressed in letters to the editor last week by Shelley Dillon, the Hudsons and school administrators. Dillon is frivolous, the Hudsons are right on the mark and the school speaks of autocratic dictum.

In shaping my impassioned response, I’m reminded of the TV show “Dancing with the Stars.” Now, that’s grinding with style.

Here we go. First, you will refrain from trying to “teach” good behavior. Second, you will teach dancing. You dig? How dancing is taught begins with the music. A good tune, a charming partner, some ambience — hey, this is the stuff of dreams. This can get you a high that is just as sweet the next morning.

Just one detail, and I’ll shut up: Dancing starts with the feet, and is amplified with the knees. Above the knees you let imagination do its thing.

— Tom Herring


Where were the ballot boxes on Vashon Island?

I find it unacceptable that Vashon-Maury Island residents were given no ballot drop boxes for this week’s election. Places all over King County with access to 8 p.m. drop boxes were established, but Vashon was not included. Mainland King County residents could also drop their ballots off at post offices where the last pickup was considerably later than on Vashon. Those of us who live on an Island have less choices than those people who live on the mainland.

A hearty thanks to the folks at the Vashon Post Office who told me, upon phoning, that I could knock on their door by 5:45 p.m. on Tuesday, and my ballot would be accepted to make postmark deadline. My husband hadn’t signed his ballot before he left the Island in the morning, and he did not return before the last post box pickup. So this was an especially kind gesture. Unfortunately, there are always those of us who wait until the last minute.

— Katie Bunnell

Economic sustainability

Small ideas can lead to big ones

It has happened on Vashon several times. K2. (Need more be said.) The Bone Factory. Olympic Instruments. Maury Island Farm, sold long ago to Seattle Gourmet. Wax Orchards’ sugar-free fruit products, sold to a North Seattle firm. And finally, the food manufacturing portion of The Country Store & Gardens; the purchaser, the McLaughlins, moved it to Reno, I believe, 13 years ago. What do these enterprises have in common? They employed Islanders.

Tourism isn’t the only answer. It’s only a start. I think what we need are enterprises that employ people.

I would be glad to assist any person interested in starting a project similar to those listed above. I believe there’s a large building available for several food enterprises.

­— Vy Biel, owner, The Country Store

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