Earlier this month, an article was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer entitled “From Kavanaugh to the Main Line, rich teens are coasting by with zero brakes. ” In this article, columnist Maria Panaritis makes gross generalizations about today’s youth, specifically within the Main Line. She erroneously expresses that wreckless individuals represent the majority, referring to specific instances or occurrences as emblematic of the entire student body. Panaritis calls out three schools in particular: Haddonfield, Lower Merion, and Radnor. She claims that all three student bodies consist of people who will grow up to be like Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The comparison to Kavanaugh depicts all of us as spoiled elitist children who never face consequences for our actions. Her accusation that we demonstrate elitism is bizarrely supported by her referencing the schools as “prep-schools.” Radnor, as well as LM and Haddonfield, are public, state-run high schools, and to refer to them as preparatory schools is simply false. Panaritis also implicitly attacks our academic capabilities by suggesting the majority of students partake in drug abuse or are budding dipsomaniacs. The cultural reality is much different. Most students are pressured to take a significant sum of high level classes, leading to massive workloads after school and on the weekends. This leaves very little time for the raucous partying she claims we do often. The author is guilty of putting forth another fallacy when she socio-economically profiles our diverse student body, claiming that all Main Line students are affluent and privileged. The Radnor school community includes many families of various economic backgrounds, so to insinuate that all students have, “access to enough money, cars, lawyers, and booze to turn summers into an eternal bar crawl with few to zero consequences” is misleading, even disrespectful.
Panaritis’ column was not a large feature or a major headline. However, it drew the attention of one notable individual: Radnor High School Principal Dan Bechtold. He wrote a response to the column defending the Radnor students against her disparaging claims. Mr. Bechtold emphasized our caring, giving, involved, community-oriented, and thoughtful qualities. He eloquently rebutted that “in ‘Another Set of Rules for Rich Kids’ (Oct. 6), she irresponsibly and unfoundedly paints my student body of 1,200 diverse young people with one broad brush, and along with it disparages their parents and families, my staff, our alumni, and the citizens of Radnor Township.” He specifically lists some of our contributions to the community, such as cooking Thanksgiving dinner, the money we raised for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and the mosaic that was donated the King of Prussia Turnpike Service Plaza, among others. The Inquirer published his statement, which generously defended the virtue of the student body, in a more recent edition of the paper.
To our fellow students, we should be grateful to have a principal that cares so much about the integrity of our character. He defended us when he didn’t need to and wasn’t expecting recognition for doing so.
To Mr. Bechtold, thank you for selflessly advocating for the honor of your students.