A Sun Valley drama starring Sam Schmucker

It’s not every day you meet a kid who gets in a tiff with an adult and admits he was wrong.

Well, meet Sam Schmucker.

Sam is vice president of the senior class at Sun Valley High School. At least for another week.

Right now he’s serving a suspension. And the Penn-Delco School Board is considering expelling him. You can read all the details here.

All of this stems from a confrontation Schmucker had with the man, a contracted outside employee, running the high school production of “Annie.” The man had a confrontation with a girl in the show. As it turns out, the girl was Schmucker’s girlfriend. Schmucker didn’t take kindly to seeing his girlfriend reduced to tears and he told the director as much. That’s when this would-be Daddy Warbucks crossed the line. He grabbed the guy’s collar. And probably dropped a few expletives on him for good measure.

Uh, can’t do that, Sam.

No one knows that more than Schmucker. He admits he was wrong and agrees he should have been punished. And booted from the school play. His family members agree. What is being debated now is the severity of the punishment.

Schmucker has now served a 16-day suspension. He lost his role as Daddy Warbucks. Seems fair to me.

Now the school board wants to expel him.

Maybe things have changed since I was in high school? Expelled? I’m not sure I get it. You'd think at least they would consider placing him on "double-secret probation."

Of course, we’re for the most part getting only one side of this saga. The school board is not commenting. Seems like everyone else in the Sun Valley and Penn-Delco communities is, however. More than 70 kids and parents showed up to support Schmucker at last night’s hearing. They have made “Save Sam” T-shirts and posters. The hash tags #SaveSam and #FreeSam are burning up social media.

To be fair, an assistant superintendent testified last night that Schmucker had been involved in a previous in-class outburst.

The school board indicated they will rule on the expulsion next Wednesday.

Sam Schmucker is a Life Scout and was scheduled to receive the American Citizenship Award for the second straight year before this tempest in a teapot exploded.

That’s where this stands. Schmucker will now sit and wait for the ruling next week.

Attorney Barry Van Rensler, representing the district, made a valid point. He wondered what message the district would be sending if they backed off because Schmucker is an exemplary student.

“If this was a C student who never got in trouble, but never did any activities, are we saying we wouldn’t throw him out?” Van Rensler asked the board. “Because this student has an A average and a wonderful family and lots of friends and can pay an attorney, he should be different? Consider the message you are sending. It’s up to you to draw a line in the sand.”

Good points.

I’m still not convinced. School districts today have tons of serious problems.

Kids like Sam Schmucker, while they may have their moments, aren’t among them. Schmucker has paid the price for his actions. He shouldn’t be expelled.

Free Sam.

UPDATE: One of the men getting a bit of short shrift in all this is the director of the show. After I posted my blog this morning, he reached out to me on Facebook.

John Baxter wants everyone to know that he is not the villain here. I agree.

He did not have any part in the school's disciplinary actions taken against Schmucker, and repeated something he told our Jeff Wolfe in our original story on this drama. IF anything, he believes he was too lenient with the kids.

Here's what Baxter had to say about the situation. I think he deserves to be heard as well:

"This was 6 weeks into the rehearsal process, and the first time those kids heard me raise my voice. Sam's girlfriend was becoming a behavioral problem on stage, and I called her out on it. Yes, I yelled, and told her that I was not having any more of the attitude, and you do not talk to directors like that, and that she was to discuss the matter with me outside. And she ran backstage, where her mother was present in the theatre basement. Would I actually be yelling inappropriate things when a student's mother was in the theatre?

"When I went backstage to find her, Sam was waiting for me in front of the basement door. He forcefully grabbed my shirt collar/scarf, not my shoulder, not a nice little 'Hey man,' he grabbed me by the front and started in with the profanity. "Leave her alone, it's her birthday, you talk to her like sh**."

Schmucker then apparently dropped a few F-bombs on Baxter.

"I told him I don't know what he thought he was doing, but pointed to his hand and said 'This isn't happening.' He tore off through the stage screaming f words. All the students present heard this.

"He may sugarcoat this and act as though he was politely trying to get me to be nice, and that I talk to people terribly, it's all a complete lie. To hear someone say I 'verbally abused them for weeks' is a complete fabrication. Again I stress, this was THE first time they even heard me get loud. Are people not familiar with teachers, authority figures and directors? Has no one ever yelled at a student with an attitude problem? I was not strict ENOUGH, it took me six weeks to call one of them out on it.

"I had no hand in Sam's punishment, at all. I never asked for him to be suspended, expelled, anything. I haven't spoken to or seen him since that night. All I knew was that he was out of my show. But to see my name dragged through the mud as some villain here, it's ridiculous and false.

"I don't know what kind of hand-holding they were expecting when they hired a professional, but I've worked as an actor in more than 20 shows, and had a hand in directing 5 prior. I've dealt with many 18-year-old college students, I have never had a problem. I worked with children as a camp instructor for acting, never had these problems.

"What you have here is the popular student did something wrong, and all the kids will stand up for him without knowing the facts, or caring what transpired. The authority figure is the villain. And it's ludicrous. I don't want to see the kid's life ruined, none of his punishment is up to me…but people need to know what happened."


Anonymous said…
I think Expulsion is a little much,there are so many more problems in schools.I don't think this is gonna solve anything I think he served his time let the poor kid finish school.My son goes to Brandywine school district and to me this is petty compared to the stuff that happens on a daily basis here.Free Sam :D
Joe Kane said…
What do expect from district that snubbed it's nose a neighboring districts an joined the Ches-Mont League because it can't compete with the Del- Val or Central League? Sore Losers!
Also, has anyone figured out what the so called director said to the young lady to move her to tears? I always thought the kids come first!
Cindy said…
The whole scenario has been blown so far OUT of proportion,it is rediculous. I have never heard if such a waste of time as this. The young man made a serious mistake by "grabbing a collar". Expletives are thrown around on a daily basis by kids and adults alike. Give this kid a break! He did his time! Don't mess up his college chances to make a point. What is that point again?
Anonymous said…
Expulsion is probably harsh for this boy who needs to learn from the event and grow to be a better person who makes better decisions. However EVERYONE needs to focus on the issue at hand. Children, these young adults, in today's world are allowed to disrespect adults in authority and never be taught differently. I know Mr. Baxter and there is perhaps no one who is more even-keeled, laid-back, and cordial than this guy. He loves what he does and surely approached sharing his craft with the young with great enthusiasm. However, anyone who has worked with teenagers nowadays knows that ALL of them; the "good" kids and the "bad" kids; can be downright intolerable. Thank this man for taking on the task of "handling" your children, sticking to it, and thankfully only having to address ONE child with an attitude problem! The boy's "girlfriend" was being disrespectful and was being reprimanded for such, there is NOTHING wrong with her being reprimanded, or Baxter raising his voice to her. THAT is why we pay these saints in these schools to teach and run extracurricular programs... they act in OUR place as parents. 99.99% of the children involved had a great experience... the ones who did not DID NOT of their OWN doing. The guy was doing his job... Oh the poor little girl got yelled at, boo-hoo. Don't turn the director into a a monster because he did what he was there to do. Grow up, deal with it. If the kid needs an attitude adjustment, the adult in charge needs to deal it out. ALL of us "adults" were yelled at, even spanked, or reprimanded in some way in school and quite frankly learned our lesson from it, quickly in that! If you screw up, you deal with the consequences! All these kids who were raised on "time outs" instead of having their butts smacked when they were "bad" and "talked to" instead being disciplined now have the attitude of being "wronged" if they are held accountable for acting out. We are raising a generation of spineless ninnies who want to act and not pay consequence; whose parents blame a teacher when the child fails a test/class instead of the child who didn't study; whose answer is to take to the web/media a sensationalize something that should be dealt with quietly and privately. All this tells me is this IS a good kid, who is still just like so many of the kids nowadays who want instant gratification because they always think there is SOME way to get just what they want... and we, the generation that is raising them, allow it. He has been removed from the activity; he has lost his good citizen award; and he should now be told "Learn from your mistake and move on" instead of being martyred. Let the kid graduate so he can go to college and be a productive member of society. But keep it off the news, the web, FACEBOOK. Someday all parties involved are going to look back with regret at what a unnecessary fiasco it became.
Eva Lang said…
Um...Has anyone noticed that John Baxer "Isn't the villain" here, but by his own words, then makes this poor kid out to be a total villain? These are not the words of a mature adult that should be trusted with children. He's already made one cry, my prediction is that he'll do it again. He is the adult and he should have been acting like it.