By Tim Rogers
All-Ohio honor student not allowed to participate in prom & graduation due to enrolling early at Florida on volleyball ride; School admins mum on why
Some things in life are so esoteric or incoherent I don’t even try to understand.
Maybe it’s a flaw of mine. Maybe I’ve grown too old to suffer fools. I have found that instead of trying to solve the unsolvable it is easier to follow the words of some Austrian poet – or was it Bill Belichick? – who said, “It is what it is.”
In other words, it is easier to give up trying to understand something that has no common sense attached. The bottom line is that I just don’t get it.
Abby Detering’s experience at Mentor Lake Catholic is one of those.
History lesson, Chapter I: Detering was a two-time All-Ohio volleyball player. In her senior season of 2013 (Class of 2014) she was named as the Ohio Gatorade player of the year. Her athletic skills and grade-point average (3.52) earned her a scholarship to the University of Florida and the right to graduate early from high school. She left Ohio on New Year’s Day to begin her college career. Pretty heady stuff.
History lesson, Chapter II: Detering and her parents were met with resistance when they applied for early graduation. They were told that if Abby left school early to enroll in college she would not be permitted to attend the senior prom, she would not be permitted to attend Baccalaureate Mass and would not be allowed to walk across the stage at commencement to receive her hard-earned diploma.
“When I asked the principal why he never gave me a reason,” said Detering, reached in Gainesville, Fla. “He said that when I make a choice like that there can be consequences that go along with it.”
Really? Let’s see: Student earns solid grades, accrues enough credits to graduate early, earns an athletic scholarship to a major university and then is deprived of participating in two significant highlights of a teenager’s life?
As I said, I just don’t get it. If I were a school administrator and one of our students had accomplished something as positive as what Abby had accomplished, I’d be shouting it from the roof tops. At the least it would be posted on the school web site and would have been tweeted and retweeted more frequently than the latest name in the Browns’ search for a new coach.
The president of Lake Catholic is Sal Miroglotta. At the time Detering and Lake Catholic’s differences came to light last summer, Miroglotta told the Lake County News-Herald’s Theresa Neuhoff Audia – who broke the initial story – that he was “not permitted to discuss a student’s situation” and that “no one” at the school would be able to shed any light.
But, Detering said she was not given a reason when she asked why she was getting the cold shoulder from a school that she had brought some acclaim to and had performed as a exemplary student at.
She also said she was not permitted to attend any subsequent meetings between school officials and her parents, Mike and Paula.
School principal Robert Kumazec said via email: “In order to respect the privacy of current and past students, I am not permitted to divulge any information concerning specific students to anyone except their parents/guardians.”
Sam Colacarro, the school’s athletic director said on Tuesday that things have not changed. The school is not going to comment.
Rich Severino, the Lake Catholic volleyball coach, said last month in an email, “I really don’t know what’s going on with the school but I do know that Abby is the best VB player to come out of Lake Catholic in my 24-year tenure.”
While holding no grudge against the school Detering remains puzzled.
“What I don’t get is that kids have been caught doing something bad, like having stuff that was illegal and they were able to walk across the stage and get their diploma,” she said. “I thought what I had done was something positive and I was sort of punished.”
Several years ago Lake Catholic had established a precedent when it granted an early graduation request from football star Chad Hounshell, who also intended to enroll early at Florida. That never materialized because coach Urban Meyer left Florida and Hounshell did not graduate early. He now attends the University of Notre Dame. But, the point is that he had been given permission to graduate early and receive all the perks.
For her part, Detering said she has moved on.
“I really don’t care anymore, to be honest,” she said, showing more maturity than the decision makers. “I am so over it. I loved the four years I spent at Lake Catholic and I will always love it. The teachers were great, really great, especially in understanding that I would miss a lot of class because of volleyball. They took extra time with me. If I wanted to go to the prom I could go as someone’s guest if someone wanted to take me, because technically, I am an alum. I’ve thought about coming home for prom, but there might be a conflict with college. But, I will never regret attending Lake Catholic.”
Detering obviously has moved on. Lake Catholic will move forward, too, as administrators have successfully pushed the incident out of sight and out of mind by simply refusing to address the issue in public. They obviously have their reasons but are unwilling to share them. I don’t get the reasoning, but that is their prerogative.
In the overall scheme of things I imagine the incident was not catastrophic. No one was injured, at least physically. Detering loved her four years at the school, earned her diploma with honors, earned a collge scholarship and brought some acclaim to the school along the way. But, in the end, it was a disappointment. It didn’t have to end that way.
If I were the parents of a child as talented and responsible as Abby Detering and was thinking of enrolling him or her at Lake Catholic, I think I would ask the officials beforehand to explain the policy. Then I’d probably enroll them somewhere else.
After all, it is what it is.