The all powerful faux poster

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

The faces of little Brooks Middle School performing arts students were no doubt shocked yesterday to find out that their upcoming spring musical was cancelled.

But it really wasn’t.

On Wednesday, a sign posted on the office door of BRAVO—the school’s performing arts program—read that this spring’s musical, The Wiz, was cancelled. The reason: lack of funding. But the poster was actually made in jest, according to an email sent out to worried parents and kids from BRAVO director Tina Reynolds. It was mistakenly put outside the office door. The Wiz is in full production, said Reynolds, who apologized for the confusion. The faux poster was also taken down.

Rehearsals for the production have been going on since last week.

Watch the video of "Ease on Down the Road" from the 1978 film version of The Wiz.

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Reader Comments

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Carollina Song from Oak Park  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 11:16 PM

I had an interesting conversation last night at the D97 Middle School Drug & Alcohol Forum with John Williams, the Director of Youth Services from Oak Park Township. He characterized CAST and BRAVO as "life-saving programs". Mr. Williams said that programs in the performance arts like that, with the socialization they provide, allow kids to work out all kinds of issues in a safe environment & remove some of the temptation to experiment with bad choices.


Posted: March 22nd, 2011 11:59 AM

Can anyone cite any statistics to show that students who participate in BRAVO or CAST statistically out perform academically than those students who do not participate in BRAVO or CAST? We have asked for this and the answer from the admin is that they DON'T keep stats like this.

Do the Math from Oak Park  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 11:57 AM

@Ben: Hey, I've been in OP 17 years and have received no discernible benefit from BRAVO. Nothing. Nada. Your point that BRAVO drives families to move to OP is, frankly, laughable. It sounds like it's a terrific program for parents and kids at the school, though. So, just pay for it yourself (with perhaps a bit extra so that all school kids regardless of income can participate) and stop burdening the other taxpayers with your pet projects.

Taxpayer from Oak Park  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 11:30 AM

Terry...please follow up with Brooks to see that this is investigated. The perpetrator of this should be fired. Clearly a D97 employee was spending district time and resources for political purposes, and union or no union this individual(s) needs to go.

Culture Vulture  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 11:29 AM

Do the Math is right. I gotta think that for the 98% of home shoppers without budding jr high age thespians, $300 less in property taxes is a bigger draw than the jr high theatre program. And for the same amount, involved parents can support this beneficial program. And for the truly interested, doesn't Circle Theater, a valued Oak Park cultural institution just a block or two away from Brooks, offer a young performer's program of its own?

Ben from Oak Park  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 10:49 AM

Why don't BRAVO families bear the full cost of the program? Because the program doesn't just benefit the kids who participate. The BRAVO program provides major benefits to the school and wider community. The program is a huge engine of encouragement for parental involvement in the school beyond BRAVO. Also, it's a genuine driver of families' decisions to move to Oak Park and buy our houses. We gladly share that benefit with all in Oak Park. It's only fair that the burden also is shared.

Do the Math from Oak Park  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 10:48 PM

So, Craig, why don't these parent pay for the program themselves? Neither you nor Sue-Brooks Parent seems to have an answer. I still don't think the poster is a big was stupid, but not a big deal. However, now we all know what teachers do with their planning time, I guess. Hmmm..and people wonder why taxpayers are angry....

LanceManion from oak park  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 9:49 PM

Craig, why don't you ask your parents to pay for the program themselves rather than foist the cost on hard working taxpayers? Or would that not fit with your indoctrination program?

Craig from Oak Park  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 8:40 PM

The idea that this poster was put up as a scare tactic is ridiculous. I have been on the BRAVO Advisory Board (BAB) for 6 non-consecutive years and am currently serving as co-president. This year's board has the largest number of parent advocates on it than any previous board. When BRAVO does a production, we have parent volunteers that come out of the woodwork to help with costumes, hair and makeup, ticket sales, concessions and backstage supervision. The parents of The Wiz cast are no different. These parents already know the value of their kid's participation in BRAVO productions. I would wager that the vast majority of them are already in the yes column and are among those whose lawns are sporting "vote yes" signs. So to suggest that a manipulative poster was needed to alter these parent's opinions is silly. Though I am not sure of the origin of the poster, I would suspect that someone with a dark sense of humor made it but that it was never their intention that it be hung on a wall for kids to see.

LanceManion from Oak Park  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 12:50 PM

This just in: a sign was accidentally printed and posted on my oldest child's bedroom door. It read: "if daddy's boss doesn't give him a raise, you may have to buy your own school clothes next year." Oldest child was next seen asking daddy's boss for a raise. Said boss ushered oldest child out of his office and then fired daddy, saying "fight your own battles, you bum."

JC from Oak Park  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 12:40 PM

So this is what is has come to: scaring school students so they badger their parents into supporting the referendum?

Do the Math from Oak Park  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 12:38 PM

Sue: Wow, so if each of those 600 children just paid a mere $333 to participate (note: less than the costs of a referendum per household), the program could be saved? If it's as great as you say, I'm sure the families of the kids participating would be more than happy to foot the bill. And, for the record, the Board and district put it on the chopping block, not the taxpayers. So, just pay its ransom and let it live...YOU have the power.

Sue-Brooks Parent from Oak Park  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 11:17 AM

Whoever sent this info to the newspaper seems to be the person starting the drama. Ms. Reynolds is probably the best thing that has happened to many of these children! Let's support her and this great program. Both CAST and BRAVO together costs the District about $200,000 and gives over 600 kids a chance to grow and succeed in many of their life's lessons. Why don't we talk about why this great program is on the top of the list to be cut when it reaches so many children.

I agree with Wondering  

Posted: March 19th, 2011 9:46 PM

How was this poster printed and put up? This makes no sense. I hope we get a follow-up report on this situation.

Wondering in Oak Park from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 19th, 2011 2:42 PM

Debbie - how was a poster like that "printed by accident"? Was it also hung "by accident"? I'm voting for the arts but I can't see anything "accident" about the poster's existence.

Watching and Listening  

Posted: March 19th, 2011 6:44 AM

If this is not given the attention that it would be in the private sector (ie apology and, likely, firing) D97 will lose all credibility with me.

Oak Park Parent from Oak Park  

Posted: March 19th, 2011 6:02 AM

I find it very disturbing to use the kids as pawns in the referendum debate. You can't disagree that the first words out of district 97's mouth were that the children were going to suffer. Why is it that it's always the children? My family is so close to living paycheck to paycheck it is not funny. We can not go on vacation anymore. This stunt reminds me of a criminal holding a child up in front of himself as a shield for fear of being shot. The sign should NEVER have been made. Fire who made it

Sally from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 3:34 PM

As a member of the Bravo Board, I agree with "question," let's give Brooks and/or D97 the opportunity to determine how to handle. Several folks have asked good questions here, but we'll never answer them in blog postings that speculate. Better to focus on what we know: the show will go on, and if you have ever had the opportunity to be an audience member and actually see a BRAVO show, the show will go on SUPERBLY! All the children involved (including my daughter) are working hard for the WIZ!

question for wednesday journal  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 1:30 PM

Have you followed up with Brooks and/or District 97 to see what, if any, investigation or action will be taken with respect to this incident?


Posted: March 18th, 2011 1:27 PM

@Mr. Reed, believe me, last week's incident surprised the director and the Brooks school employees as much as it did me. We are appreciative of the professionalism displayed by all and thankful that we and our students, have been able to move past it.

question for debbie Figel  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 12:51 PM

since you seem to know so much about what happened, I would appreciate knowing the following: was the poster printed at school using school resources? Did a teacher or other school employee print the poster? It is entirely inappropriate for any school employee to lobby or otherwise attempt to influence this election during school hours.

Alan Reed from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 12:28 PM

@Debbie Figel: So, according to the article, "the poster was actually made in jest" and referred to lack of funding. And, according to you it as "accidentally printed and posted." I find the whole situation questionable and sad, whoever perpetrated it. `

Debbie Figel from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 11:35 AM

I am the BRAVO co-president, and was with with the director when the flyer was posted. It was printed by accident and never meant for viewing by any students. My son is in the production, the students were told that the poster was false, and at no time was the referendum ever brought up.

Karen from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 11:30 AM

Having a child in the production, I know first-hand that the incident was handled appropriately in the way that it was addressed to the students and to the parents. My children were never told to go home and tell their parents to vote yes for the referendum.

Ben from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 11:20 AM

Ok. Let's all take a deep breath before slinging accusations. Here's what we know: it is highly public that if the referendum fails, the BRAVO and CAST programs will be eliminated. This has been broadcast repeatedly in the media. There are yard signs on supporters' lawns, and folks are wearing buttons. Thankfully, we have raised children who are aware of current events and issues. Ms. Reynolds has at all times acted appropriately. Let's keep the arguments focused on substance. Thank you

Brooks Parent from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 11:19 AM

From what I know about this situation, and having a student in the production, the show director was not in the building at the time the poster was put up, was not responsible for it, and was not aware that it was put up. When it was discovered the faux posting was made, every effort was made to rectify the situation and allay the student concerns.


Posted: March 18th, 2011 11:07 AM

No matter how their parents vote, the children who are in Bravo/Cast should be allowed to know that there may be no productions next school year and the year after that. This directly affects them. Was this tactic correct, that's a matter of opinion, I suppose.

Scare Tactics  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 10:57 AM

IF this is true, the teachers are showing desperation. I can understand their fear but seriously using the kids this way is wrong on so many levels.

Doug S from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 10:18 AM

This is shameful. Can we expect official comment from the board and administration? Will there be a reprimand?

Alan Reed from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 5:51 AM

The story has been relayed to me a bit differently: "a teacher at brooks middle school is using scare tactics on the kids. The teacher in charge of a school play told them the play was canceled. The kids were very upset, esp. the kids in the play. Then a couple of hours later told them it was not canceled but that might happen if the referendum does not pass.. so tell mom and dad to vote yes." If true, this is shameful.

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