Honor Erin Edwards's Legacy at Woodward Academy

Honor Erin Edwards's Legacy at Woodward Academy

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Concerned Friend of Erin Edwards started this petition to Woodward Academy Governing Board

We lost a dear friend and community citizen with the passing of Erin Victoria Edwards this year. The sheer number of people Erin touched was evident from the droves who attended her funeral or otherwise paid their respects.

Those who knew Erin well could speak on her ability to connect with people on a unique level and tell their story elegantly and powerfully. Those who knew Erin even better could point to experiences in her life that pushed her to thrive in these roles. Her tenure at Boston University, the City of Atlanta, and NBC New York are just a few of the places at which she made her deepest connections.

Erin herself spoke highly her time working with student publications at Woodward Academy. She poured countless hours into editing both the literary magazine Silent Voices and the news magazine The Blade. While spending hours after school tested her limits at times, she could at the same time recount endlessly the many ways she enjoyed and grew in her roles. After all, she was an exceptionally talented storyteller, and these were forums for her to express that gift.

Unfortunately, Erin faced the same difficulties that everyone on publication staffs at Woodward Academy did: absurd funding cuts, stifling oversight, and an overall disregard by the school administration. Silent Voices and the Blade often had to make unnecessarily tight spending choices just to stay within a budget that shrank every year. Even when funds were available to distribute enough magazines, the administration was insistent on stepping over the adviser's head and holding meetings to scrutinize every word before anything was sent to print.

To some extent this is just another day in a private school's publication room, where administration officials have no obligation to honor students' free speech and absolutely no obligation to fund that speech. But at some point, the administration's apathy inhibits the education and development of the students who are at school for those very purposes.

Woodward Academy should, in Erin's honor, begin to recognize the worth of its publications. Woodward Academy should release a statement outlining steps to increase funding for publications, a more transparent review process of student speech, and the clear discretion that will be given to the adviser of these publications. Erin's passing is NOT a reason for any of these steps; on the contrary, these actions should have been completed a long time ago. Rather, Erin's passing should serve as a wake up call to the administration (and the alumni keeping them accountable), that these publications have the potential to nurture citizens like Erin Edwards. But only with the right care.

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