We are writing this letter on behalf of the students, staff and geese at Hickory Elementary School. We were very excited to see our geese featured on the front page of your paper several weeks ago. However, we were extremely disappointed to recently see the editorial cartoon depicting those same geese, Leonard and Penny, chasing children at our school.
This depiction is inaccurate and we were very offended. We know that a cartoon is supposed to be funny, but we researched what an editorial cartoon is supposed to be. We found the definition to be, “a commentary expressing the artist’s opinion.” We do not believe your artist has ever met Leonard and Penny; if they had, they would know that this opinion is not correct. We do not chase our geese and they do not chase us.
Our teachers teach us to respect the geese and their space. Leonard and Penny are very rarely around students outside, even during physical education class. If they happen to be on the field during class, our teachers respectfully try to move them to another part of the field. If this can’t be done, then they move the activity to another part of the sports field. When the geese are around the building, the students do not feel threatened. We are happy that they have chosen our school to start their families as they have become part of ours, in addition to being a learning experience.
We are asking for a printed apology to our school. Here at Hickory, we are taught to not make fun of others. The adults at our school work to teach the students about respect and environmental stewardship. We would also like to invite the artist who created the cartoon to come to our school and meet Leonard and Penny, however, that will need to wait until next spring. We are happy to report that last week, Leonard and Penny became the proud parents of seven cute goslings, who have now moved away from their nesting area. We are hopeful that by meeting them, the artist can have a more accurate opinion of our geese for any future commentary. We hope that it will be with the same respect and compassion we are taught as students.
While we understand the value and importance of free speech, the rights of individuals to express themselves, and a good joke, we feel the cartoon was in bad taste and not a good joke.
The authors are members of the Student Council of Hickory Elementary School.