What it’s Like to be a Student with a Brain in the Delta County School District

Cidney Fisk, first row on the right, in red tennies, with a group of Delta High students last April, who were recognized by the Delta County Independent for displaying "exceptional leadership, service, academic excellence, and are outstanding citizens in their school and community."

Cidney Fisk, front row on the left in red sleeved shirt and red tennies, shown with other Delta High students last April who  the Delta County Independent recognized for displaying “exceptional leadership, service, academic excellence, and [for being] outstanding citizens in their school and community.”

No one disputes that Cidney Fisk, 18, of Delta, Colorado, is among the most accomplished graduates ever turned out by the Delta County School District. But some of Cidney’s personal characteristics apparently rubbed Delta High School (DHS) officials the wrong way, and she has paid dearly for it.

In the 2015-16 school year, her senior year, Cidney’s GPA (grade point average) was 4.1, an A+ average over all her classes. She achieved a score of 26 on the American College Test (ACT) test, which students take prior to college admission. To put her score into perspective, the national average composite score on the ACT is just 20. Any score above 24 is considered excellent and gives a student very high odds of being accepted into any college or university.

Cidney was involved in student government, and was student body treasurer in her senior year. She was captain of her high school’s speech and debate team for two years, entered speech and debate competitions at both the state and national levels, and won at both. She was a member of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and placed 6th nationwide (pdf) in impromptu speaking at FBLA’s 2015 National Leadership Conference in Chicago, Illinois. Cidney logged over 400 hours of community service during her time at Delta High.

Questioning Priorities

But Cidney ran into some trouble during her senior year in high school.

As student body treasurer, Cidney became critical of the school’s economic priorities, and was outspoken about her observations. She started a Young Democrats Club at DHS, came out as an atheist in her senior year and was critical of her school district’s persistent and illegal mixing of Christian religion with instruction.

Anti-Democrat billboard posted in Delta, Colorado

Anti-Democrat billboard posted in Delta, Colorado

As we have seen in the past, political liberalism, outspoken atheism, and critique of the school district’s’s financial priorities and proselytizing are not popular things in Delta County.

But what Cidney didn’t know, and proceeded to find out, is that in Delta, being up front and “out” about these things can also get you roundly punished.

Cidney first started noticing she was getting treated differently from other students in late 2015, after she started questioning her school’s expenditures.

Her duties as student body treasurer included overseeing school budgets, observing whether the school spent money wisely and giving budgetary input.

She took her job seriously, and paid attention to her school’s expenditures. Cidney noticed that unlike other high schools, DHS had no library. The psychology textbooks students were using dated back to the 1980s, and when she signed up for Advanced Placement (AP) classes, her teachers didn’t have textbooks for these classes. Rather, the school told AP students’ parents that they had to buy their kids’ textbooks, to the tune of hundreds of dollars — not an easy expenditure for low income families in Delta like Cidney’s. Her journalism class also had to move out of its normal room because the computers in that room stopped working. In the midst of all this academic need, Cidney saw school officials spend $32,000 to have a new floor installed the high school gym, when nothing was really wrong with the old floor. She also noticed school officials spent big buck on all new mats for the DHS wrestling team.

Cidney put two and two together.

She concluded that Delta High was neglecting a whole host of dire academic needs while spending lavishly on athletics. She brought this situation to the attention of school administrators and asked why it was happening. They said the school district had budgeted more for infrastructure than for academics, and that was it.

None of her counselors or school administrators offered to communicate Cidney’s concern to the School District, put her in touch with school board members, or assist her in trying to alter the school district’s priorities to boost expenditures on academics, or even look at the problem Cidney had brought to light.

She reached a dead end.

Cidney's Instagram post

Cidney’s Instagram post

Dismayed by the school’s indifference to what she considered grossly misguided financial priorities, Cidney posted an Instagram photo of herself wearing a school sweatshirt, with the hashtag, “#notactuallyafan.”

Shortly afterwards, in March, 2015, one of Cidney’s teachers, Renee Cronenberg, called her in for a surprise conference along with Cidney’s academic guidance counselor, Shawna Magtutu.

“It was a conference about my attitude,” Cidney said.

Magtutu showed Cidney her Instagram photo and told her she needed to change her attitude and stop criticizing the school. Cidney was told her attitude “was not suitable as a student leader,” and she needed to “pick her battles.” Then Mrs. Magtutu told Cidney that if her attitude didn’t change, she “would hate to ruin her position in student government” and “ruin her grant opportunities” for college.

Cidney was shocked at the encounter.

First of all, her Instagram account was private. Only her friends were supposed to be able to see it. This meant one of her friends had showed the photo to school officials. Beyond this, she understood that as student body treasurer, it was her responsibility to speak up about inappropriate expenditures and perceived financial neglect of academics at her school. Yet here were her own teacher and school counselor, threatening her over her opinion about school expenditures.

Despite this, Cidney continued to express her concerns about her school’s choices and priorities.

Protesting Religious-based “Sex Education” Presentation

In October 2015, Cidney heard her school was bringing in controversial abstinence-only-before-marriage speaker Shelly Donahue to provide what the school district considered sex ed “instruction” to the students.

Cidney researched Donahue. She found Donahue’s talks were rooted in Christian beliefs and devoid of specific information Colorado law requires public schools teach in sex-ed, like about sexually-transmitted diseases, types of contraception, their side effects, use and availability. Instead, Donahue gives an overly-simplistic talk in which she says ridiculous things like “in the presence of sperm girls’ vaginas turn into ‘little Hoover vacuum cleaners and suck it up,” that “boys’ brains are ‘like microwave ovens’” and girls’ brains are like “slow cookers.” In her talks, Donahue shames girls for having premarital sex, and likens them to used packing tape and dirty diapers. In her talks at DHS, Donahue told students that having sex before marriage “puts you further from God” — a religious assertion that, given in a public school as “instruction,” violates the federally-mandated separation of church and state.

Realizing that Shelly Donahue’s talks as DHS were religious in nature and cheating kids out of truthful information that they not only really needed but are entitled to under state law, Cidney took action. She showed her friends YouTube videos of Donahue’s talks before her visit to the school so they would be familiar with them, and she and her friends made T-shirts with statements like “I prefer science,” “Real control is birth control” and “I abstain from ideology.” They wore the shirts to school in a silent protest of Donahue’s talks. Seven students participated in the protest. Cidney also covered Donahue’s talks for the school paper, and took photos of the slides in her talk. She noted that every slide in Donahue’s talk contained a crucifix.

Cidney knew from personal experience how important the omitted sex ed information was, too. Unable to get the information Colorado law requires public schools give students, she had taken the time to educate herself about the various types of contraceptives, sexually-transmitted diseases and infections and other info. Soon other students started considering Cidney as a resource for that information. Cidney had had several girlfriends who asked her for information about contraceptives, and help obtaining them. Cidney had to fill her friends in and show them how to get contraceptives in their community. This was crucial information that students should have gotten in sex ed at school, but that the school district refused to give them.

Questioning Authority

A Facebook post by Chad Williams, who was invited to speak to Delta High students about drugs and drug abuse.

A Facebook post by former Navy Seal and Christian missionary Chad Williams, who Delta High School brought in to talk to students about drugs and drug abuse

As a journalism student, Cidney stepped out again when she questioned the qualifications of yet another speaker the school brought in.

That speaker was Chad Williams, a former Navy Seal and Christian motivational speaker who had served in Iraq.

Williams had written a book about his experiences titled “Seal of God,” but the school brought him in as an anti-drug speaker. From his biosketch, Cidney couldn’t figure out out exactly what qualified Williams to speak as an expert on drug abuse. She was also suspicious that, like Shelly Donahue, Williams also had the potential to slip religious messages into his talk. Cidney researched Williams’ book and found a description of it that said,

“Part memoir, part evangelism piece, SEAL of God follows Chad’s journey through the grueling Naval Ops training and onto the streets of Iraq, where he witnessed the horrors of war up close. Along the way, Chad shares his own radical conversion story and talks about how he draws on his own experiences as a SEAL to help others better understand the depths of Christ’s sacrifice and love.”

Prior to talking to the student body as a whole, Williams spoke to Cidney’s student government class of about 20-30 students. Williams opened by saying he was objective and qualified to speak on the subject of drugs and drug abuse. During his talk, though, Cidney asked him to elaborate further on the experience that qualified him to speak about these topics. Later, Mr. Miller, her student government teacher and advisor, reprimanded Cidney for daring to ask the question, even though she was on the school’s journalism staff, wrote for the school magazine and was taught to seek key information about qualifications from people put forth as experts.

Politically Aware

Cidney and some of her friends were also more politically aware than most high school kids, a characteristic that apparently drew the ire of some of her teachers.

Near the end of October, 2015, Delta High let students wear their Halloween costumes to school. It was an election year and Cidney and some of her friends wore trash bags with signs on them that said “Vote No on Amendment 67. It’s Trash.”

Above: YouTube video of Cidney Fisk speaking at Delta Democrats meeting

Amendment 67 was a “personhood” amendment that would have given fertilized human eggs the same full legal rights as existing humans, effectively making abortion illegal.  Amendment 67 would have violated womens’ long-established legal right to an abortion. Similar measures had already been voted down by wide margins in Colorado twice before.

Cidney got backlash for wearing the costume.

Her teacher, Mrs. Cronenberg, reprimanded her in front of her entire class, saying “God gave babies life and abortion is murder.”

Cidney's October, 2016 "No on Amendment 67" Halloween costume (R)

Cidney in her October, 2015 “No on Amendment 67” Halloween costume (R)

When Cidney’s school counselor, Mrs. Magtutu, was informed about this incident, she found nothing wrong with the teacher preaching her personal religious beliefs to students during class time, as though it was public school instruction.

Retaliation by Her Teacher: The Quiet “F-Dump” for Questioning Authority

On April 1, 2016, right before spring break, Cidney checked her grades and was shocked to find her Student Government grade had plunged from a 98 to a 70.  She discovered that Mr. Miller, her student government teacher had given her failing grades for three solid months without telling her, and had waited until right before spring break to post them to her record all at once.

Cidney asked Mr. Miller why he had suddenly started giving her Fs. He told Cidney that “questioning authority” and “her attitude” were the reasons for the low grades he had given her in student government.

Again, Cidney was shocked.

Cidney’s parents exchanged five or six angry emails about the failing grades with the principal, Mr. Carlson, after which Mr. Miller apparently realized he had gone overboard retaliating against Cidney and went back and changed some of the Fs he had given her to Ds, which brought her grade in the class up from a from a low C to a B. He also told Cidney in a private conversation that if she stopped criticizing the school, her grades would go back up, so it was clear that the teacher was retaliating against her based on the opinions she had expressed.

But something else very important happened around this same time that likely contributed to what Cidney believed was a war on her personally, as well as her grades.

Cidney Blows Open the Religious Promotion in Delta Schools

On March 31, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel printed an extensive front-page story about Delta County School District’s repeated violations of separation of church and state. The Sentinel story highlighted incidents like Delta Middle School giving out free Gideon bibles to students during class time, DMS teacher Dan Dunham holding bible study classes for students every Wednesday morning in his own classroom, and offering free doughnuts to the kids who attended.

Religious clubs run by teachers are illegal. Under the law, if religious clubs exist at school, they must be initiated by students, and if they aren’t, the schools are breaking the law by hosting them. The Delta school district put a stop to the “Donuts with Dunham” club immediately after the Sentinel article came out, and after the school district was confronted about it by a lawyer from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who got involved after the pervasive religious proselytizing in Delta County Schools was revealed.

The Sentinel article also discussed Shelly Donahue’s abstinence-only presentation at Delta High School, and featured a photo of Cidney at the top of the front page article, above the fold. In the photo’s caption, Cidney told of her concern for her schools’ mixing of religion with their instruction. Cidney also cited Shelly Donahue’s talk, which she had covered for the school magazine, the Paw Print. Cidney told the Sentinel she noticed the religious crosses displayed on every slide Donahue showed during her talk at DHS. Cidney provided photos of slides from the presentation to the Sentinel reporter to back up her story. The Sentinel also interviewed Delta County School District Assistant Superintendent Kurt Clay, who told the Sentinel he “didn’t notice” the crosses or the other overt religious overtones in Donahue’s presentation. Clay further told the paper that the District had been bringing Donahue in to giver her  “sex ed” talks for “at least the last decade,” revealing that the controversial, Christian-based speaker was a regular part of the school district’s curriculum.

“It’s like I always feel I’m being proselytized to, like they’re trying to convert me,” Cidney told the Sentinel, citing how uncomfortable the Delta schools’ overtly religious culture had made her for years. “It’s like a religious school, not a public school,” she explained.

Cidney also came out publicly as an atheist in the Sentinel article, telling the paper “It’s scary to be an atheist in this community,” and pointed to the death threats and threats of violence Delta citizens had made against atheists on social media around this time.

It was immediately after the Sentinel published the article that Cidney’s student government grades plummeted.

Cidney also feels certain that her activism and opinions were the reasons why she failed to get a number of scholarships that required letters of recommendation from her school.


Above (video): Cidney gives a speech in September, 2015 to a political group about the importance of education and the Delta County School District’s prioritizing of athletics over academics in its financial expenditures

Punished for Her Opinions?

The “crimes” for which DHS punished Cidney were her efforts to call out the school district for giving students an inadequate sex education, for spending lavishly on athletics at the expense of academics, and for looking analytically at the school’s expenditures. She spoke her mind about them. She did her job as a journalist with the school paper by asking a Christian motivational speaker to supply credentials to substantiate his appearance as an “expert” in drugs and drug abuse. She was also a Democrat with liberal leanings, and an atheist — two things well established to draw ire and backlash in Delta County.

What About Future Delta County Students?

I asked Cidney what she would say to future students like her, who are sharp enough to see these kinds of discrepancies, misdeeds and misguided priorities within the school district, and forthright enough to call them out on it.

“Keep it up,” she said. “It’s worth fighting for. But if you want scholarships, don’t voice your opinion at Delta High School, or say anything that goes against the grain.”

Cidney graduated from Delta High on May 15, 2016. She managed to get just enough scholarship funds to allow her to attend college in Denver in the fall. She is, to say the least, eager to leave Delta.

Now that Cidney is free of the Delta County School District, she wants the public to know about the difficulties she encountered, not just from DHS students, but from the teachers and counselors at her school — the very people who had been entrusted with helping her advance her academic career.

————————————–

NOTE: Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) set up a scholarship fund to help Cidney pay her college tuition. 100% of donations received will go towards Cidney’s education. (GoFundMe takes a 5% cut — that’s why they aren’t being used.) Readers who want to donate can go to WCAF’s “Donate” page and donate using a credit or debit card. WCAF’s website uses PayPal, but you do not need a PayPal account to donate using this method, and PayPal also doesn’t take a cut of any donation to a non-profit. Please make a note on your donation that is to go to the Cidney Fisk Scholarship Fund. 100% of all donations received will go to Cidney’s college career.

Update – 7:19 a.m. MDT July 14, 2016 – Thanks to a $250 donation from someone in Taos, New Mexico, WCAF has now received donations to the Cidney Fisk Scholarship Fund totaling $4,200! Thank you, everyone. Cidney and her parents very much appreciate the outpouring of both moral support and the financial help to send their daughter Cidney to college in Denver this fall! 

Cidney in front of Delta High, with her Big Check from WCAF

Cidney in front of Delta High, with her Big Check from WCAF

Another Update – At 12 noon on August 15, 2016, Western Colorado Athesits and Freethinkers officially handed Cidney a check for $4,325 towards her college education. If WCAF continues to receive donations earmarked for Cidney’s college career, the group will continue to forward those funds to Cidney.

204 comments for “What it’s Like to be a Student with a Brain in the Delta County School District

  1. Paul
    April 29, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    This article wreaks of anti-religion bigotry from a childish belland. There is NOTHING in the constitution separating religion from state. But I guess the author AND Cidney didn’t actually read it, did they? Separating church from state is a myth. I weep for the future of the U.S., should people like her actually gain meaningful influence.

    John Adams: “Suppose a nation in some distant Region should take the Bible for their only law Book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and reverence toward Almighty God … What a Eutopia, what a Paradise would this region be.”

    and…
    “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God?”

    Anne you should be ashamed of yourself.

    • RandyW
      April 30, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      Ignoring how SCOTUS decisions determine constitutionality doesn’t negate it. If you require intellectual dishonesty to support your opinions, they are not good opinions. And, you conveniently ignore that the Bible also advocates owning slaves and explicitly condones beating them. What a Eutopia, indeed.

    • Damian Stefan Solorzano
      July 11, 2017 at 10:36 pm

      If I may be *slightly* Pedantic, it’s “Reeks”, as in smells. Did you read this bit in our Constitution?
      “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”….(ellipses mine)

      This young person is correct in standing up for her right to be free from the Pharisee like display of religion in her former school. I’m happy she’s away from the backwards, benighted attitudes that seem to affect so much of our mation.

      • Paul
        July 12, 2017 at 9:04 am

        “[Making] no law respecting and establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” does not separate church from state. It simply means the state cannot dictate by means of law who believes or practices what religion. There is absolutely no stipulation about what public schools can and cannot promote. School staff are not government officers and therefore have no legal restriction on which religion they may or may not promote on school grounds.

        • Uncle Mike
          July 12, 2017 at 9:36 am

          Luckily, the Supreme Court disagrees with you.

    • Chris
      July 12, 2017 at 2:29 pm

      “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”
      —John Adams

    • Anne Landman
      July 12, 2017 at 6:33 pm

      You should be ashamed of YOURself, Paul. The correct spelling of the word you used in the first sentence is “reeks,” not “wreaks.” And what is a “belland”?

      • American Patriot
        July 12, 2017 at 7:39 pm

        What is a Mation? Do we have one of those?? Is it like one “mation” under God, indivisible? Can’t , Can’t, Can’t we all just, just get along? Don’t we all have typos in common? Jesus people, what ever happened to live and let live? Civil discourse by definition doesn’t have to be secular. You people spend too much time arguing and not near enough time living. And believe you me, the day will come when you’ll wish you had all of that time back. I just got old, not stupid.

      • Paul
        July 14, 2017 at 9:33 am

        Oh wow! What a (not) intelligent response. I’m basically saying you show excessive jealousy and an unjustified sense of entitlement to more rights than another based on imagined offenses. At this rate you’re fitting the description very well.

  2. Robert Melzer
    July 20, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Welcome to rural America. What ever happened to separation of church and state.

  3. July 19, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Hello, I am a Campus Organizer with the Secular Student Alliance. Upon finding out about this, I wanted to extend the services of the SSA and our contacts with the Freedom From Religion Foundation to Cidney should she want to move forward with any legal action. Cidney is welcome to reach out to me at pete DOT zupan AT secularstudents DOT org so that we can move forward. On another note, I would really encourage her to look out for the SSA Student Scholarships we offer in October, as it seems she’d definitely qualify. I hope the author could pass this information onto her.

    • Anne Landman
      July 20, 2016 at 6:09 pm

      Thank you, Pete. I have passed this information on to Cidney.
      Anne

  4. Chris
    July 13, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    I have great respect for real teachers. But any teacher that sprinkles education with religion, should spend the rest of her / his days in a forced labor camp, as committing crimes against the future of the world.

  5. Rieley McCulloch
    July 12, 2016 at 11:36 pm

    I agree with Sierra. Well, I think I do. If she’s pretty much saying that there needs to be a happy medium where either religion can be legally practiced in school by any person who is a part of any religion or religion shouldn’t be practiced at all. I also don’t feel that it was right for the teacher to do that to Cidney. It actually disgusted me to hear that a teacher would discriminate against a student like that. It’s completely ridiculous.

    • RandyW
      July 13, 2016 at 5:11 am

      Sierra is wrong. Look up the law.

      • Rieley McCulloch
        July 13, 2016 at 1:28 pm

        You have your opinion and I have mine. If there can be a happy medium where religion is allowed in school, so be it. If no religion is allowed, so be it.

        • Uncle Mike
          July 13, 2016 at 1:34 pm

          Be careful what you wish for. I know a few Satanists that would love to share their good news.

        • RandyW
          July 13, 2016 at 1:39 pm

          It’s not a matter of opinion, it’s a matter of fact. The law says public school students may discuss religion freely, but public school teachers and administrators must remain neutral regarding religion in their role as school employees. That’s the law. They’re either following it or they’re not. And, it’s not a matter of opinion as to whether the events described violate the law. They do. It’s not about finding a “happy medium.” Your ignorance of the law does not change the law. Educate yourself before speaking, so you can avoid saying foolish things.

          • Rieley McCulloch
            July 13, 2016 at 1:47 pm

            Oh my goodness, that is what I’m saying there should be a HAPPY MEDIUM. Good God.

          • RandyW
            July 13, 2016 at 1:51 pm

            What is a happy medium between following the law and breaking the law? Please, explain what that means to you. Does it mean doing things that are legally questionable or ambiguous? Or, don’t you think agents of the government should be expected to obey the law to its full extent?

          • Rieley McCulloch
            July 13, 2016 at 2:05 pm

            I know the school is breaking the law. I didn’t say there was a happy medium. I said there should be. Either change the law to where all religions can be practiced and preached or do away with it all in the public school system.

          • RandyW
            July 13, 2016 at 2:17 pm

            Teachers and administrators at public schools may not preach ANY religious perspective to students. That is already the law. Students do not represent the government, thus they are allowed free religious speech at public schools within reasonable boundaries (not disrupting the learning environment, not harassing other students, etc.).

            What about the law do you find disagreeable? Please, explain yourself.

          • Uncle Mike
            July 13, 2016 at 1:54 pm

            That’s not what “happy medium” means.

    • Anne Landman
      July 13, 2016 at 9:41 am

      The Delta schools also give out Gideon bibles to students free during class time, let youth pastors roam campus, force middle school students to watch Christmas plays about the baby Jesus, lets the Fellowship of Christian Athletes meet during class time, and allowed a teacher to hold a bible study class in his own classroom before school, offering free donuts to kids who attend. And more.

      • Anne Landman
        July 13, 2016 at 9:44 am

        I have attempted to communicate with the Delta County School Board members about these issues and the allegations of illegality involved. They don’t respond, just direct me back to the superintendent, who says everything is fine.

    • Rieley McCulloch
      July 13, 2016 at 4:28 pm

      Apparently you are not understanding what I am trying to get across to you. Thanks for your feedback.

  6. Anthony Streich
    July 12, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    As a the other captain of the debate team, I can tell you that this story is extremely one sided. Sure, I don’t personally agree with a lot of things that Delta County does, but spreading a religious article is not helping the issue whatsoever. I also know that there was plenty of defiance that went on that also was not mentioned in the article, but that is a side track. I guess the crux of the situation is that there is a huge lack of understanding in Delta County, from both sides. The school needs to understand that building these new athletic additions (which are absurd as the article points out) is not what will help every student and the opposing students and parents need to realize that in Delta County, academics aren’t the bread winners on the budgets: athletics are. If the equipment is not kept up to date, then there will be a lack of attendance therefore resulting in even more absent funding for academics. I don’t wish to start an argument, I just want to bring clarity to the article.

    • commonsense
      July 12, 2016 at 10:50 pm

      “…but spreading a religious article is not helping the issue whatsoever.” What? Where’s the religious article? Can you give me a link to it?

    • Michael Jardine
      July 13, 2016 at 5:04 am

      Ok

    • RandyW
      July 13, 2016 at 5:10 am

      What do gymnasiums have to do with anything? And, what understanding is required from the “other side?” Do people need to understand that the school is allowed to proselytize to students despite its illegality? Please clarify, as you not only went way off topic, but also set up a dichotomy but only fleshed out one half of it (with irrelevant information).

    • Robert Fisk
      July 13, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      I’m not sure what you’re getting at here Anthony but it appears that you consider the school to be some type of business instead of a public institute intended to educate children. Attendance at sporting events should raise funds to pay for those events because they are not academic and are a privilege to students who keep their grades up. Chances are not one student from the school will ever earn one dime as result of participating in sports. On the other hand when you learn math, science , a foreign language or any other subjects offered at the school you are creating knowledge that will definitely help you to earn a living. This is the point of complaining that sports take precedence over acedemics. I wonder if you consider defiance to be pointing out important issues that need to be resolved. The article s indeed one sided because the school has chosen not to correct the issues that were brought up. Certain individuals at the school decided to take it a step further and exact discipline in a manner that is cloudy and hard to track if you were not directly involved. I’m dissapointed that you have chosen not to support your fellow student but nonetheless your opinion is just as important as any other. Good luck in the service. We wish you the best.

    • Brandy
      July 21, 2016 at 12:45 pm

      This article is awesome I think this girl did an amazing of recognizing Delta highschool and it’s major issues or concerns. I don’t agree completely with the religious part but to each their own. . Good job cidney wish you all luck girl.

  7. Greg
    July 12, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    This could have been my school in Yamhill County, Oregon (late 90s) as well. Brave girl.

  8. Jay Stooksberry
    July 11, 2016 at 9:40 pm

    I don’t doubt that there are issues within the Delta County School District. As an atheist myself, I have my own concerns about a school district that I will eventually send my son to attend.

    However, this is yellow journalism at best. You present one side of this issue (only the Ms. Fisk’s account), and turn it into gospel for your readers to believe. You publicly attack people, name names, and don’t even attempt to express their version of the story. (I know that you reached out to Shawna Magtutu, but it doesn’t seem like you quote her at all in this blog.) This piece if borderline libelous.

    Your continued pot stirring in the Delta community actually makes it harder to be an atheist because you give the tribal identity a bad rap. On top of this, I have already seen prominent online publications featuring your article — such as “The Friendly Atheist” — which regurgitates your one-sided narrative as fact, and paints my town as a bunch backcountry, Bible-thumpin’ hicks.

    Don’t atheists pride themselves on gathering as many facts as possible from credible sources, weighing the evidence, and making a logical decision as a result? What this article represents is a one-sided narrative that does a disservice to not only your cause, but to the values of objectivity and critical thinking that we atheist champion.

    • Anne Landman
      July 11, 2016 at 9:58 pm

      Yes, it’s been on Patheos, too, and has been posted a number of times on Reddit. It’s had over 17,000 views just today.

      This is the story of Cidney’s experience in the Delta County Schools, and how she perceived these events as a student in that school system. That is the story I wanted to tell. As a student going through this first hand, the way she feels she was treated is extremely important. No student should be made to feel this way for his or her views. And she isn’t the only student in this school system to tell this kind of story. The Delta Middle School student who reported and documented the Gideon bible giveaway during class time at her school and alerted her mother to it was also harassed, not just by students, but by school staff as well. She complained about a teacher quoting the bible in class and was transferred to another class, as though SHE was the problem. She was written up on a specious dress code violation. The family is moving away from this area just so their child won’t have to go back to this school system.

      These kinds of problems are endemic in the Delta County Schools. Who better to tell about it than the kids who face it every day for years in this school system?

    • Uncle Mike
      July 11, 2016 at 10:28 pm

      If school officials refuse to comment on their presumably illegal actions, how can she write about both sides?

      • Jay Stooksberry
        July 13, 2016 at 10:38 pm

        But a school representative DID talk to Anne. And Anne didn’t print it. Isn’t that suspicious to you?

    • Vestal
      July 12, 2016 at 4:59 am

      Two statements in your reply make me question the integrity of your reply.

      You state yourself to be atheist yet you ask a question about atheists in a way that is indicative of challenging a person’s motives.

      I know this is in no way conclusive of anything but this is just my opinion of what you’ve got to say.

      • Jay Stooksberry
        July 13, 2016 at 10:39 pm

        How would you like for me to prove my atheism? Furthermore, what difference does it make if I am an atheist or not?

        • Vestal
          July 17, 2016 at 4:06 am

          You must think it makes a difference, after all you stated you are an atheist.

          If it really makes no difference why state it?

          • Jay Stooksberry
            July 17, 2016 at 11:21 am

            As an atheist who actually lives in this community, it frustrates me when others who don’t live in the community give atheism a bad wrap, and turn it into the convenient strawman. Which is exactly what Anne’s group does. I’ve grown weary of defending WCAF.

            That’s why.

          • Jay Stooksberry
            July 17, 2016 at 11:22 am

            And back to my original question: How would you like for me to prove that I’m an ACTUAL atheist? You’re the one making the accusation, so apparently it is important to you.

    • July 12, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      “you reached out to Shawna Magtutu, but it doesn’t seem like you quote her at all in this blog”

      If the school district and its representative refuse to confirm or deny any of the allegations, there is only one side to be presented. If they wanted to be quoted, they should have spoken. The demonstrable facts, such as paying Christian speakers and teacher-lead christian clubs, are documented facts that speak for themselves.

      “Don’t atheists pride themselves on gathering as many facts as possible from credible sources, weighing the evidence, and making a logical decision as a result?”

      No, that’s not what atheism is.
      If you are actually the atheist you claim to be, you should know better. If you’re going to lie about who you are in order to ingratiate yourself and increase your credibility here, you’re going to need to do a better job than this.

      • Jay Stooksberry
        July 13, 2016 at 10:37 pm

        Ok dude. Didn’t know I had to prove my atheism to be taken seriously. Glad all the True Scotsmen are here to point out my own religious views. Do I need to quote from Hitch or Dawkins to prove my atheist street cred. Grow up.

        The point that I am trying to make is about the process of critical thinking, which is a core value of freethinkers and atheists alike. Taking an obviously one-sided story at face value doesn’t demonstrate much skepticism in the slightest.

        And a representative DID talk to Anne. Anne simply refused to print her words. If this doesn’t set off your internal skeptic alarm, I don’t know what will.

      • Jay Stooksberry
        July 13, 2016 at 11:51 pm

        Also, Anne DID speak to a school representative but conveniently left her responses out of her blog. Doesn’t that seem suspicious to you in the slightest?

    • BobTheBob
      July 14, 2016 at 1:34 pm

      You misunderstand the point of this article.

      It’s not exactly about being “fair” to both sides. This article is about Cidney. Let me repeat, this article is about Cidney. Its focus is about how she, a very promising young woman, felt marginalized, harassed, and intentionally targeted by her school district and her teachers, whose primary duty as educators is to teach, encourage, and support all of their students, regardless of their personal political or religious beliefs.

      If this article was strictly about reporting facts, then you could argue about not having enough of the other side present. But reporting facts is the secondary objective of this article. The primary objective is to tell the story of Cidney, who would otherwise have no means of expressing the injustices she suffered at the hands of school officials.

      This style of journalism is meant to amplify the voices of people who have no(or very little) power against entities larger than them.

      • Jay Stooksberry
        July 16, 2016 at 8:47 am

        Not intended to be fair. This is all about how one person feels. Facts are secondary. Couldn’t agree more.

        Character assassination is not a “style of journalism.” As somebody who has worked with Mrs. Magtutu in a professional setting, I find it hard to believe that she would “threaten” a student in the manner described in this hit piece. But so many of you have already made up your mind about her because of this one-sided narrative. She’s OBVIOUSLY a power-hungry, authoritarian school administrator out to destroy the livelihood of this ONE particular student.

        The “facts” presented in this story are circumstantial and anecdotal at best. In essence, this is a case of “she said, she said.” While it may make for titillating gossip or an incendiary blog post, it doesn’t make a strong case for a school-wide conspiracy to oppress one student.

        In the words of the late and great Christopher Hitchens, “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

        • RandyW
          July 16, 2016 at 8:59 am

          Are you suggesting that the facts that are not disputed are acceptable? For example, giving a student failing grades for questioning the school’s use of religious materials and presenters?

          • Jay Stooksberry
            July 16, 2016 at 12:38 pm

            I am no way making that suggestion. I’m saying that this (the grade changing charge) is a HUGE accusation to make, coupled with other large, damning accusations against professionals who have been committed public servants and dedicated community members for longer than I know. For so many people with stellar records to, all of the sudden, turn into these seemingly criminal and conspiring authoritarians–all committed to the downfall of this one outspoken student–would take a huge jump in faith, in my opinion.

            Just curious: Do you live in Delta County?

          • RandyW
            July 16, 2016 at 2:18 pm

            Look up Jessica Ahlquist, and then try telling us how outlandish it is for a school, and even a town, to conspire against someone standing up for what is right. You clearly don’t understand, or perhaps don’t want to understand, how powerful the tribalism of religion is.

            I don’t live there. When people ask that, it’s generally the precursor to “if you don’t live here, you have no right/reason to tell us how things should be.” It’s a way to attempt shutting down valid arguments by appealing to the same tribalistic tendencies that make standing against religious bad behavior and undue privilege so difficult. If you are thinking of taking that route, I accept your concession.

          • Jay Stooksberry
            July 17, 2016 at 12:29 pm

            Jessica Ahlquist was able to file a lawsuit based on evidence. I’ll gladly make that comparison when WCAF and Ms. Fisk can do the same. Until then…

            As for asking if you lived in the community, I was in no way trying to shut down your argument. I’m not a fan of tribalism either. However, it is also convenient to besmirch my community from the safety of the internet and the anonymity of a screen name. Especially when you only have one side of the story to begin with.

          • RandyW
            July 17, 2016 at 1:48 pm

            My point about Jessica Ahlquist is that an entire school and town conspired to make life difficult for her because she stood up against a wrong being committed in the name of religion. You seemed to think it unlikely that such a thing would or could occur, so I provided an example to disabuse you of that idea.

        • Uncle Mike
          July 16, 2016 at 9:05 am

          So, because Ms. Magtutu was professional with you, she couldn’t possibly do what this article alleges? I’ve been a teacher for 26 years, and I’ve worked with a few teachers who act professionally among colleagues and parents, but are, let’s just say, less-than-professional when dealing with students or their grades.

          Cidney’s story is not outlandish in the least.

          • Jay Stooksberry
            July 16, 2016 at 12:43 pm

            Neither is it outlandish for a 18 year old girl with a chip on her shoulder to feed a sob story to an opportunist blogger, who continues to stir the pot in a community that she doesn’t live in.

            The accusations being made here are not slight or trivial. The narrative here is about a school of scheming educators who are hellbent on destroying this one girl’s future. It’s not just one teacher; it apparently is several. If so, that’s a conspiracy.

            The problem: If damages actually occurred and can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, where is the lawsuit? Where is the Freedom From Religion Foundation or the ACLU? Granted, I know that such civil tort takes time to build a case, but let’s see this get hammered out in a court of law, instead of the public besmirching that is taking place in the court of public opinion.

          • RandyW
            July 16, 2016 at 1:19 pm

            Based on your understanding of burden of proof for a civil case, I would suggest that you perhaps refrain from trying to sound like a lawyer.

          • Jay Stooksberry
            July 17, 2016 at 11:27 am

            Please school me on what I’m missing in terms of burden of proof. If I am not mistaken, one requires evidence for burden of proof, no?

        • Vestal
          July 17, 2016 at 4:26 am

          And now we’ve got your one sided facts and you want us to forget everything in the article based on nothing more.

          Below you make mention of stellar records. Could those records be stellar simply because no one has ever brought to light similar situations? Could it be that there have been students in the past that were treated the same as Cidney but they either didn’t want to speak up or were afraid to speak up?

          I’m willing to believe everything in this article not simply because I’m atheist, I’m willing to believe it because I was raised semi-religious in a very religious small town and I know first hand what small town religious people can be like. I know the lies they tell themselves so they can still feel safe in their chosen variety of faith against their actual actions and words.

          • Jay Stooksberry
            July 17, 2016 at 11:34 am

            “Could those records be stellar simply because no one has ever brought to light similar situations? Could it be that there have been students in the past that were treated the same as Cidney but they either didn’t want to speak up or were afraid to speak up?”

            Possibly. The flag is in the air now. Others can certainly come out of the wood works now that a platform has been established. If they can file similar grievances against similar perpetrators, I’m all ears, and I think the community should listen as well if that is the case.

            If these professionals are as diabolical as they are portrayed in this article, then they most certainly have done this before without repute, don’t you think? What is being described here is nothing short of pathological, right? So with that said, there should be a pattern of behavior that can be demonstrated over a course of time during their careers. Until that evidence arises, I will rely upon the existing body of evidence (the one that shows them to upstanding citizens and dedicated professionals) than this one outlier case. Until that pendulum has transferred weight to the other side will I be skeptical of the much larger body of evidence.

  9. DennisMM
    July 11, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    Ms. Landman,

    Thank you for this piece. I linked to it on my Facebook timeline. I have only one criticism, a matter of accurate terminology. You refer to the images in the sex-education presenter’s slides as “crucifixes.” They are not — they are simple Christian crosses. A crucifix is a cross upon which the figure of Jesus, crucified, is portrayed (thus, “crucifix.”) Crucifixes are most often seen in Roman Catholic and Orthodox imagery and are rarely used by American Protestants. I hope you will change the appearances of this word, for the sake of accuracy.

    A one-time altar boy and long-time agnostic.

  10. Mel
    July 11, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Anyone here heard of the type of bullying called gangstalking?

  11. Sierra Baldozier
    July 11, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    I graduated the same time as Cidney from another school within Delta County. I, much like her was involved in many extracurriculars around my school except for the fact that I played two sports. I agree that schools put too much of a emphasis on athetics, but that is the main way a school connects with its youth and with its community. Also being on both ends of the money spectrum, with basketball we raised the majority of our money through admission fees and fundraising. Also sports bring in the most money. Locals would donate money specifically for the football team or another sports program. It is not like the school board is taking their entire budget and putting it towards a new gym floor. I don’t agree with the role of sports in this country but its everywhere, not just delta county. And being in journalism I have seen a club get the short hand of the money, but we found a way to fundraise and get through. It isn’t always fair but thats how almost all public school work.
    Also growing up in a mainly republican area your school will reflect those views. As would a democratic area. I’m not saying its right to preach religion in school, and its not right to shame students for their beliefs but that goes both ways. If it is not okay to talk about your religion in school it also should not be okay for students to preach why religion is wrong (not saying Cidney did or didn’t) but freedom of speech goes both ways. There is always going to be a problem within public schools, especially when your school is poor.
    I do not agree that delta county schools have failed her. Being from Cedaredge High School, I envied the classes and opportunities that DHS had to offer. Yes, they had to pay for text books, but at least they had the opportunity to take those classes. Delta county is poor and thats not going to change. The school district is trying its best the keep all four of the schools functioning. I rather pay for a few textbooks then not have the class at all. Plus the teachers are understanding when you are not able to pay for them.
    It might be because I went to Cedaredge, but I never truly saw the form of disrespect that Cidney did from a teacher. Yes there were favorites in each class, but you cannot blame a teacher for being able to connect with some students better than others. That is just how people are. But the teaching staff at CHS was always encouraging all of their students. They did have their flaws but I saw many teachers go out of their way for students who weren’t in sports to make sure they were able to succeed.

    • NavyVet
      July 11, 2016 at 6:09 pm

      You miss the point, it is the duty of everyone to question our public institutions not the duty of the institution to shame those that have done nothing illegal.

      • Sierra Baldozier
        July 12, 2016 at 5:15 pm

        I never said Cidney should have been shamed and at all. I never said it was wrong for Cidney to question the school system.You are missing my point, I am just trying to defend my school and give my opinion on this article since I came from the same area and have a different view.

    • A
      July 11, 2016 at 10:31 pm

      Re: “I’m not saying its right to preach religion in school, and its not right to shame students for their beliefs but that goes both ways. If it is not okay to talk about your religion in school it also should not be okay for students to preach why religion is wrong (not saying Cidney did or didn’t) but freedom of speech goes both ways.”

      Students can do these things; faculty should not.

      • Sierra Baldozier
        July 12, 2016 at 5:19 pm

        And I never said it was okay for faculty to do it. I just think if we are going to put an emphasis on separation of church and state then everyone should try to avoid the topic of religion in school to avoid teachers being put in an awkward position.

        • Uncle Mike
          July 12, 2016 at 5:40 pm

          Pretty sure Cidney would not have said anything if the teachers and admin hadn’t invited Christian speakers to talk to the school. Teachers can easily avoid being “put in an awkward position” by not doing things like this.

    • Vestal
      July 12, 2016 at 5:04 am

      “If it is not okay to talk about your religion in school it also should not be okay for students to preach why religion is wrong (not saying Cidney did or didn’t) but freedom of speech goes both ways.”

      Interesting choice of wording. Religion is talking, anti-religion is preaching.

      Anyway, the issue wasn’t students talking about religion. The issue was the school allowing what amounts to proselytizing in the classroom.

      Freedom of speech doesn’t cover this in a public school.

    • Tony Paxton
      July 12, 2016 at 4:01 pm

      You said “If it is not okay to talk about your religion in school it also should not be okay for students to preach why religion is wrong (not saying Cidney did or didn’t) but freedom of speech goes both ways. ” That does not make sense! If someone IS talking about their religion and criticising others, they are doing something wrong, and IT MUST BE POINTED OUT. Trying to stop something that is obviously wrong is not a violation of freedom of speech….it is the PURPOSE of the concept.

      • Sierra Baldozier
        July 12, 2016 at 5:25 pm

        Isn’t that what some atheist do. They point out that the idea of religion is wrong. Which is besides the point because that is not what my comment meant. I am saying that the whole idea of religion should be left out of school. Atheist or not, no one should be talking about it in school. I don’t think that Cidney calling out the sex ed teacher was wrong because I agree with her, it was wrong. I said that as a general comment over separation of church and state.

    • Casey Corr
      July 12, 2016 at 6:12 pm

      Sierra, your post does not address any of the issues raised by the article, and I’m not sure how your personal experience (at a different school, no less) is relevant to the discussion. DHS should not be promoting Christian ideology, it should not be punishing students because of their (lack of) religious beliefs or ideologies and it should prioritize education over athletics.

      You say “If it is not okay to talk about your religion in school it also should not be okay for students to preach why religion is wrong (not saying Cidney did or didn’t) but freedom of speech goes both ways.” With all due respect, you are confusing the issue here. The students should be allowed to discuss religion/atheism freely, the school should not be in the business of enforcing religious orthodoxy (hence the problem with Cidney being punished for challenging Christian elements in the curriculum). The school should be silent on issues related to theism, it should not promote any ideology and the teachers should not promote religious beliefs of any kind in their discussions with students. The government should not have any role in promoting or discouraging religious belief, the school is an instrument of the government, therefore the school should not have any role in promoting or discouraging religious beliefs.

    • commonsense
      July 12, 2016 at 10:53 pm

      If the schools in Delta are so poor, where are they getting the money to bring in speakers? Could they not spend that money on getting textbooks that are less than 30 years old instead?

    • RandyW
      July 13, 2016 at 5:15 am

      So, if you didn’t see it at your school, how does that have any bearing on what happened at Cidney’s school? Could you bring up anything less relevant?

  12. July 11, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    Apparently, having failed to persuade by example, it became necessary for many of the Christians in the Delta school system to use the government to prop up their religion. In other words, when true “faith” was required they couldn’t cut it.

    Secularism is for grownups.

  13. Danielle Gallegos
    July 11, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    There is too much animosity and too many unkind words being spoken here. I have been around many different cultures with many different beliefs and yet still find the beauty in each of those people. I was born and raised in Delta and attended school here as well. I was student body president of my class, played sports, achieved mostly A’s, and wasn’t smart enough to see the things this young woman saw. Delta county schools do need to obey the laws and the community does need to be more accepting and loving of different cultures and beliefs. As a believer, I am very saddened by the way she was treated. I only wish her well and hope that regardless of our personal experiences that shape our beliefs, we can all be more kind and loving to one another.

    • Iris
      July 11, 2016 at 7:22 pm

      Accepting and loving the this student was being forced to listen to faith-based programs despite her lack of belief. Punishing her for expressing that she, along with other students did not agree that the school should be run like a jock-centered church. Where was the love and acceptance for her.

      • A
        July 13, 2016 at 10:36 am

        Iris, as a student at Delta High School all the guest speakers speeches were not mandatory to attend. Cidney was not forced to go and listen to these speakers, she could of easily not showed up to the speeches and gone to class. Instead she chose to go to these speeches. The administration would of understood her choice not to go to those speeches, as many students who chose not to go just went class.

        • Uncle Mike
          July 13, 2016 at 10:44 am

          The point is whether or not the school should be offering speakers like this during school hours *at all*. Why should illegal actions be tolerated just because they’re “optional.” It was also her duty as treasurer to question how the school spends its budget.

          • A
            July 13, 2016 at 10:58 am

            Cidney’s job as Student Council treasurer was not to question how the school spends it budget, her job as treasurer was to regulate how much the Student Council spends on homecoming and prom. Also each school has it’s own budget inside of the district budget. The school budget is overseen by the principal and the school financial secretary, not the student council treasurer.

          • Uncle Mike
            July 13, 2016 at 11:04 am

            Really? *Just* homecoming and prom? Not assemblies or speakers or any other extra-curricular activity? And you know this…how?

            But thanks for sidestepping my main point: why should the school district be inviting religious speakers at all?

  14. Michele
    July 11, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    It is disgusting that she was treated this way, let alone by the very people who were spouting Christan beliefs. Their behavior is the antithesis of what a Christian is supposed to be. These are the same people who are angered by the behavior of non-Christians, but can’t see that they are behaving in the same way. Religion aside, any human being, especially an adult in a position of authority, threatening a child and purposely harming their future because of different beliefs, is pathetic and should most definitely be punished. Best of luck to Cidney on what I’m sure will be a very bright future!

    • July 12, 2016 at 9:32 am

      Michele, sadly my experience tells me that this is EXACTLY how christians ARE. Maybe they shouldn’t be like those unprofessional shitbags, but if so I have rarely seen it. Quite the opposite.

  15. Marika
    July 11, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    It is amazing. I am from Germany and many times during this article I had to recheck that it is really from 2016 and not 1816. And the country is in fact the USA and not Iran. You rational US people have the bad luck, that in the 17th, 18th and 19th century all religious fanatics in Europe moved to the USA. And while Europe became more and more tolerant and progressive, parts of the USA just stuck and stick in the dark ages. Don´t let this fundamentalists win.

    • Vestal
      July 12, 2016 at 5:11 am

      The USA is young compared to Europe. I hope that our path leads to an outcome, regarding tolerance and progressiveness, similar to Europe.

  16. Jack
    July 11, 2016 at 10:23 am

    I have contacted the school board administrators and I suggest that more freethinkers and proponents of the separation of church and state do the same. Sometimes, massive backlash can make these dolts re-evaluate their position and realize that what they are doing is illegal and unconstitutional. I’m SURE the FFRF has gotten wind of this and that some sort of legal action will be taken.

    Contact the administrators and voice your frustration. Let them know that not all Coloradans are bible believing, proselytizing Christians.

  17. Jessica
    July 11, 2016 at 8:43 am

    You have used a picture of my child on this blog without permission and I am kindly asking you to remove it.

    • Soth09
      July 11, 2016 at 9:03 am

      Which one?

      BTW Jessica, she doesn’t need to ask your permission and you should make that request in private unless you want to witness the power of the Streisand effect you dolt.

      • Devin
        July 11, 2016 at 10:45 am

        Bahahahahahahahaha!

    • bob
      July 11, 2016 at 11:58 am

      if your child is in public, anyone can take her picture and use it for any non-commercial use.

  18. joe
    July 11, 2016 at 6:47 am

    This article needs a national spotlight. What happened here is a travesty and is a complete violation of the Constitution. Here’s hoping that Cidney Fisk files a lawsuit against the school and manages to dismantle the whole damn institution. I’m posting this article wherever I can in the hopes that the story ends up on the front page of CNN.

    • Ian
      July 11, 2016 at 4:12 pm

      Seriously, this is completely and utterly illegal. Her and her family should absolutely file a lawsuit. Not only is her former school grossly in violation of the separation of church and state, but authority figures at the school actively BLACKMAILED her for fighting it.

      It was honestly tough to get through reading about how disgusting this school and a segment of it’s teachers are. It makes me appreciate the fact that I went to high school in an urban, liberal city.

  19. July 11, 2016 at 4:09 am

    Great work. Rural communities are cesspools of corporate greed. My communities nearby are spending a ton of money on everything but education.

  20. Shaza
    July 11, 2016 at 2:47 am

    Wow…. so much for “separation of church and state” and “right to free speech”…. but I bet those same people bang on about the second amendment ad nauseam.

    How would those same teachers and administrators feel if they were persecuted in the same manner for their beliefs?

  21. Adrian Valdez
    July 11, 2016 at 12:31 am

    Plain and simple, “Get over yourself, you drama queens!” “It’s sad that ignorant people like Cidney and the publisher of this BS, probably her parents, have to create controversy!” “Just because your opinion and beliefs are not well acepted it doesn’t mean that you have cry about it!” “YOU PEOPLE ARE WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS COUNTRY!!!” #TrumpTrain

    • Bob
      July 11, 2016 at 12:39 am

      What the school is doing is clearly illegal and unethical and she called them on it. I’m not surprised that a Trump supporter is OK with illegal, unethical behavior and feels the need to attack others.

    • Tyler
      July 11, 2016 at 12:54 am

      You’re a terrible troll. 0/10

      • Abner
        July 11, 2016 at 12:59 am

        I agree – the quality of trolling from Christians has dropped precipitously. It never was very good in the first place, but since The Bloviatrix became their front man, it’s lost many brain cells of quip.

      • Amor DeCosmos
        July 11, 2016 at 10:13 am

        lol… obvious troll is obvious.

    • Anne Landman
      July 11, 2016 at 9:08 am

      Cidney is already at this stage more educated than most of the citizenry, thanks in large part to her own efforts to educate herself beyond what the school teaches.

    • Dave in Rhode Island
      July 11, 2016 at 9:18 am

      Adrian Valdez, you don’t recognize the issue. It’s wrong what the school is doing, by law. No one is a “drama queen”. If the situation were, say, that the school was pushing a Muslim religious agenda, do you think that the non-Muslim students would be out of line for protesting that? Of course not.

      If you want to attend or have your child attend a Christian school, then there are plenty of private institutions that would be suitable. Public schools in the United States of America, which is a nation based on freedom of religion (including from religion) are not by law allowed to provide a faith-based education.

      Simply put, go to private religious school if that’s what is important to you. Leave religion out of public school because it’s illegal and discriminatory.

    • Taylor G
      July 11, 2016 at 10:34 am

      “Just because your opinion and beliefs are not well acepted it doesn’t mean that you have cry about it!” — I think that’s the slogan for oppression, you witless tit

      • Rob
        July 11, 2016 at 11:16 am

        Taylor G
        This only proves her point.

    • July 11, 2016 at 11:08 am

      Cidney nor her parents published this. If you don’t like, don’t read it. Stop being a Drama Queen.
      Cidney is far from ignorant. Your remarks make me wonder about your intelligence.
      People like you, small minded, jealous and offensive, are what is wrong with this Country. Do you get out of Delta much?

    • July 11, 2016 at 11:32 am

      I see, so religious freedom means your religion? If anyone replaced the word christian in this article with Muslim would you fell the same? I spent 10 years of my life in military service to this country to protect the liberties of ALL U.S. citizens and to protect them from this type of prejudice. Help me understand how the same freedom that protects our gun rights doesn’t extend to her freedom of speech and rights to separation of church and state.

    • Christi in Colorado's Western Slope
      July 11, 2016 at 11:35 am

      Omg, YOU are the problem with this country. Separation of church and state is in our constitution. This is a PUBLIC school. Required to obey the law. If you want to recruit Christians, do it AT CHURCH, NOT AT SCHOOL. There is a time and a place for everything. Stop crossing over and telling us it’s our fault.

    • Frank Rizzo
      July 11, 2016 at 12:42 pm

      Really bad trolling. If you’re going to poe, at least make it funny.

    • JD
      July 11, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      #TrollTrain

    • frank
      July 11, 2016 at 8:56 pm

      Adrian, try graduating from middle school and appreciating different beliefs before you comment.

    • Vestal
      July 12, 2016 at 5:17 am

      Did you go to this school or only one that was similar in all aspects?

      I only ask because your lack of understanding regarding U.S. law as it relates to public schools and religion seems to be severely lacking.

      Was it that your school didn’t care to actually teach or is it that you simply didn’t care to learn?

  22. Matt
    July 11, 2016 at 12:24 am

    Bravo for Cidney! We need many more brave, intelligent young students like her. I’ve been a non-believer since I was about 14 (I’m now 51), but never encountered anything like that, fortunately. I probably wouldn’t have had the nerve to do anything about it either. I feel that religious people are slowly losing their ability to dominate non-believers, but until that happens, it’ll take more people like Cidney to fight the good fight.

  23. Z
    July 11, 2016 at 12:12 am

    It’s funny how she complains about how crappy our nation is right now and says that if a democrat were to be elected this year everything would be solved? But last time I checked our current president is a democrat, hince the reason our country is falling apart!!! Don’t agree with one word out of her mouth. I’ll be glad when you and your followers leave this county!

    • Matt
      July 11, 2016 at 12:26 am

      If you’re so dissatisfied, why don’t you leave this country?

    • Bob
      July 11, 2016 at 12:35 am

      Where do you see that…she said no such thing. She pointed out everything the school was doing that was illegal and unethical and she was punished for it. Shame on a school district that is failing to give their students the knowledge they need, not religious jibberish.

    • July 11, 2016 at 12:52 am

      How self absorbed does one person have to be to take a story about a young girl being victimized by her school and turn it into some personal political agenda? Take a step back and look at yourself and what you just did; then please reevaluate the way you handle yourself in the future.

      • Anne Landman
        July 11, 2016 at 9:09 am

        What the school did on many counts was, frankly, illegal. They violated federal law and Cidney’s civil rights, many times in many ways, and are unapologetic.

    • Shaza
      July 11, 2016 at 2:44 am

      Um…. it’s “hence” not “hince”. Just a friendly help. 🙂

    • Slaughter
      July 11, 2016 at 5:01 pm

      The current president has fixed a lot of the awful mess left behind by the previous one, the dimbulb known as W. That is neither here nor there about Cidney Fisk’s troubles with this backward school district.

  24. Bill Sanders
    July 10, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    Cidney is a good person in a bad neighborhood. She deserves a lot better.

  25. Jen
    July 10, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    Do you ever speak to students of that school that aren’t atheist? Would you post an article about a student with a religious background? Just curious.

    • Anne Landman
      July 10, 2016 at 11:26 pm

      Yes, I would consider posting an article about such a student, but it would have to be on the topic of separation of church and state and religious incursion into the public schools. I’d be very interested in the perspective of a religious student who was against such incursion, and their reasons why (aside from the fact that is is illegal).

      • Ryan Caines
        July 11, 2016 at 4:21 pm

        Reading between the lines Ms. Landman would write an article about a student from a religious background if:

        It was about one specific topic and the student held the “proper” attitude about said topic.

        So if you are willing to pander to her ideals and just so happen to have religious beliefs she may want to talk to you.

        This attitude could easily be considered as parallel to the actions she is railing against in her post. Agree with me or else. What an excellent example of free thinking!

        If the allegations in this highly opinionated opinion piece are true this is a matter for the courts. There would be a good case if even 50% of this was true. A lawyer looking to make a name for themselves would likely take this on pro bono. Makes me wonder why there hasn’t been a lawsuit filed. Likely because there is no willing party so this is simply more of the same whiny crap from the free thinkers.

        • Matt
          July 11, 2016 at 5:26 pm

          Ms. Landman can publish what she chooses IN HER BLOG!

          Public school is not the same–do you understand?

          • NavyVet
            July 11, 2016 at 6:25 pm

            By proper attitude do you mean keeping her mouth shut just because they disagree with her on the topic. I thought that this was a free country, I don’t recall anything in the article mentioning that she was vulgar or disruptive in voicing her opinion. Her freedom of speech and opinions are not something that is checked at the door.

          • ryan caines
            July 11, 2016 at 10:10 pm

            Obviously she is welcome to write what she wants. I was simply pointing out the ridiculousness of her response to the question asked.

            She stated she would only interview someone if they talked about one topic and only if they agreed with her by being against the religious incursion into the schools.

            As a claimed free thinker she should be inviting people to challenge her views. It seems she only wants to speak to people who share her views.

            I understand the separation of church and state and agree with it. If there was such a huge issue a lawsuit would be imminent. Since I have not read of a pending lawsuit against the school district. I am just going to assume this is Ms. Landman stirring the pot in a community she doesn’t even live in. Her and the other lackeys have repeatedly tried to make this an issue on facebook and have not succeeded.

        • RandyW
          July 11, 2016 at 5:36 pm

          When someone doesn’t give the answer you want, make up an answer and attribute it to them.

        • Anne Landman
          July 13, 2016 at 9:38 am

          There is a longstanding and consistent record of such actions by the DCSD now, and multiple families have complained about it to the superintendent, the state board of education, elected officials, FFRF, ACLU and anyone else who will listen.

          • Ryan Caines
            July 13, 2016 at 10:31 am

            Exactly. This crap has been all over facebook for months and yet no lawsuit or action against the school district. Why is that? I would guess it is because the FFRF, ACLU and other groups do not agree with you as to the gravitas of the situation. Therefore you are beating a dead horse. You better get to work digging up a new way to bring it up next month.

          • Uncle Mike
            July 13, 2016 at 10:40 am

            Do you think lawsuits are instantaneous? Is that how you think this world works?

          • Ryan Caines
            July 13, 2016 at 2:09 pm

            Uncle Mike,
            Lets get one thing straight. I am in no way defending the actions alleged against the school district, teachers and administration. At this point they are just that.. allegations.

            I am well aware of the time frames involved in lawsuits and the necessary research, time and cost. Ms. Landman has been bringing this up on a regular basis for at least 7 months. This link is to her blog from December of 2015.

            http://annelandmanblog.com/2015/12/delta-middle-school-pushes-bibles-on-students-during-class/

            The blind hatred by her and her lackeys toward anything to do with religion is old and tired. They whine about proselytizing in the schools and then turn around and do the exact same thing with their brochures and meetings with the children by proselytizing to them about atheism. Using the argument that if they allow one religion they must allow all.

            We all had issues and problems during high school and beyond. It is not a civil rights violation every time someone does or says something you don’t like. If the actions of the administration and teachers are as Ms. Fisk claims I would 100% agree a lawsuit is in order. I believe though that Ms. Landman is only using this child as a pawn in her war against organized religion.

          • Anne Landman
            July 13, 2016 at 9:28 pm

            Ryan, you apparently are unaware that endorsing and/or promoting a religion in public school is a violation of federal law? What WCAF members don’t like is public schools that knowingly and intentionally violate the law and trample on students’ civil rights.

          • Uncle Mike
            July 13, 2016 at 10:35 pm

            There are atheist proselytizing meetings with children using brochures? Are you sure you’re not thinking of Jehovah’s Witnesses?

          • RandyW
            July 14, 2016 at 6:24 am

            The point of distributing other materials is to trigger the school to decide it doesn’t want certain religious materials being distributed (thus exposing that it only wants certain materials distributed) and, because they can’t discriminate, it’s either allow them all or prohibit them all. That’s when their bigotry overwhelms their desire to proselytize and they prohibit them all.

            It is an effective strategy, as the people who support giving out Bibles in public schools have an irrational guttural reaction to things that are harmless but are trained to fear. Exposing their desire to have only their religion represented forces them to act. If they won’t do the right thing for good reasons, they’ll be forced to do the right thing for irrational reasons. Either way, they end up doing the right thing.

            If you have a problem with following the law, explain yourself.

          • Ryan Caines
            July 13, 2016 at 3:17 pm

            I see my comment that was awaiting moderation was erased. A dissenting comment on an article about a person being punished for dissent is erased. What a joke.

            Free thinker.. not even close

          • Anne Landman
            July 13, 2016 at 9:22 pm

            Ryan, I only delete comments that are profane, rude or insulting, or are spam.

          • Ryan Caines
            July 14, 2016 at 11:15 am

            Let me break this down in simple terms for you.

            This article addresses 2 main issues
            1. religion in the delta schools
            2. the alleged treatment of a student based on their beliefs

            Pay attention now. These are 2 separate issues regardless of how hard Ms. Landman attempts to link them.

            As to point 1. I agree that the instances of religion in school are illegal. No argument this is black and white. This also means that the brochures and meetings held by the WCAF are illegal as well. At the point where the school district allowed her group equal access her argument about this becomes nullified. If the schools continue in the same path next year feel free to revisit.

            Point 2. If the allegations are true it is terrible but she has a very weak case legally. Our courts operate on an innocent until proven guilty standard. Almost every single allegation in this piece is a word against word instance. The only one that could remotely be proven is the grade dump. The database records should show if all the students grades were update at the same time or not. Attempting to correlate the daily sentinel with her drop in grades would be nearly impossible from a legal standpoint.

            There are likely not enough affected parties here for the ACLU to act. The FFRF sends letters and that is about it. The likelihood of a win in a civil case is low.

            Stop using kids as pawns

  26. Tammy
    July 10, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    I know the floor was donated and no one needed to buy AP books. More in this story I know to be false. Many more, highly educated students have no problems with the fine teachers in this school. Including mine. Grades given are earned and difference of opinions are greatly respected at DHS and even the middle school. Regular sex education including coverage of contraceptives is given before middle school in this state and others in my own experience with my kids..

    • Uncle Mike
      July 11, 2016 at 10:27 am

      It’s almost like you’re saying that you are totally okay with teachers and schools doing illegal things. Did you even read this article?

    • RandyW
      July 11, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      I had a burger at this one McDonald’s restaurant and it was wonderful, and their bathroom was pristine. Therefore, anybody who says their experience at a McDonald’s was different from mine must be lying.

      That is your argument. Can you explain to us why you think this is a sound syllogism?

  27. M
    July 10, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    I was a student at delta high school before cidney. I was not an athlete, or jock. In fact I was in band and took advanced classes, and graduated in 2011. The majority of this county is conservative and believers. I was awarded a scholarship for 1 year of college tuition due to taking college classes at DHS. This community is conservative and God fearing. If you cannot agree with that or handle being around people who feel that way you are free to leave and go somewhere that are others who agree with your single minded beliefs. I am so glad Cidney and her horrible attitude are leaving this county. God Bless.

    • James Sullivan
      July 10, 2016 at 11:13 pm

      How are you supposed to do that as a child? Don’t be mad this kid called Delta out for what it was, a farce of education and a way to push an ancient agency with no real world application. And then had the ‘christian’ thing to do and try to ruin her academic career? What bible verse was that? Was that before the slaving was ok, or after the part where men and women can’t sit together in church??

    • Phil McCracken
      July 10, 2016 at 11:19 pm

      What the hell are you talking about? You can’t force religion on kids in public school, it’s illegal. It’s wrong on so many levels. In my opinion, religious indoctrination should be illegal as well. I’m glad I live far away from your backward town.

    • Elinore
      July 10, 2016 at 11:19 pm

      What a horrible thing to say. You do realize that it is narrow minded people like you who are keeping this country from progressing forward. She had every right to point out the injustices that she saw, and no right to be punished for it. Religion has no place in a public school. Period. End of story. I give her so much respect for what she did. She is going to do amazing things down the road, you can count on that.

    • Anne Landman
      July 10, 2016 at 11:30 pm

      That’s just crazy to claim a kid needs to just leave a county because they hold alternative beliefs. This is a free country, M, remember? Aren’t we all free to believe what we want, without harassment? How would YOU like to be ostracized, denigrated and told you should leave Delta County simply because of who you were and what you believe? You endorse this kind of hatred and bigotry? Amazing attitude you have.

      • Vestal
        July 12, 2016 at 5:39 am

        Freedom only comes with believing a certain way, according to some.

    • Sam Garfield
      July 11, 2016 at 12:19 am

      Gotta love a zealot calling out a free-thinker for their “single minded beliefs.” Apparently they don’t teach irony at bible school.

    • Explo Derator
      July 11, 2016 at 12:39 am

      — “This community is conservative and God fearing.”

      Who made you the authority to declare that in a free country? It is also a community with atheists, with constitutional rights that protect them exactly the same as you.

      — “If you cannot agree with that or handle being around people who feel that way you are free to leave and go somewhere that are others who agree with your single minded beliefs.”

      Free to leave, but not to live freely and believe freely? Speaking of someone with single minded beliefs, look in a mirror. You are free to leave and move to Afghanistan, where you would fit in better with your religious fanaticism and bullying attitude, instead of country founded on LAW that makes all people equal and free.

      — “I am so glad Cidney and her horrible attitude are leaving this county. God Bless.”

      That is the most two faced, contradictory and vile thing I’ve seen written for a good while. It would have been more honest if you ended with “Burn in hell.” You disgust me, and your response to Cidney is effective proof of her complaints, and exactly what’s wrong with your kind of abusive self righteous attitude.

      Please know that I fully intend to do whatever I can to eradicate your Iron Age religious nonsense from the face of this good green Earth, humanity needs to do better than your bigoted nonsense. I hope some day you see through your fairy tales and come to your senses, so you can realize yourself as a person who is actually capable of the compassion and forgiveness your people preach but don’t practice.

      • Bob
        July 11, 2016 at 10:47 am

        Iron age? I think you are being a bit generous. I think bronze age would be more accurate.

        • Matt
          July 11, 2016 at 8:00 pm

          More like stone age. Thinking something all powerful will strike down people with righteous vengeance…. ever wonder why the dark ages were so appropriately named?

    • Jon
      July 11, 2016 at 5:10 am

      Was that a nice thing to say? Why would you (a god fearing citizen) say something so inappropriate about another human being? Your not setting a good example! I can disagree with someones opinion and still like them a person have you ever tried to do that?
      Have you ever thought that maybe god isn’t real, and all that crazy stuff that happened in the bible really didn’t happen? What if the bible was written by man and the stories are fake, meant to have a metaphorical meaning?
      I bet your shaking your head right now and you mind has slammed shut at the nonsense i am spouting out.
      Maybe people have hurt you and that is why you would need to say hurtful things?
      I am so sorry for your pain!
      I will say a prayer to your God that that you be relieved of all that pain and hate you harbor for others.

      • J.
        July 11, 2016 at 4:51 pm

        Jon, M. said that Cidney was free to leave and not meaning she had to leave. I have personally had the misfortune of going to school with Cidney and she is as bigored and shrude as sone of the people she condems. She is hateful and dark, hiding in a cloak of political self-righteousness. I am good friends with people who share very similar beliefs with her in college, but this girl Cidney is a radially charged brat with only a few members of the community deciding to be outspoken to the load of crap she recycle’s from her parent’s and misleading national trends. You are on the wrong side defending her not for her beliefs, but by how she goes about flaunting them.

        • Uncle Mike
          July 11, 2016 at 5:03 pm

          Quelle coincidence, you having gone to school with Cidney. Are you jealous because her grammar and spelling are better than yours?

          So, just to be sure: you’re saying it’s okay for the schools to do illegal things, as long as it’s against “hateful and dark” and “bigored [sic] and shrude [sic]” students?

          You should see if there’s an “Analysis of Argumentation” class at your current school.

        • DennisMM
          July 11, 2016 at 7:23 pm

          J., you graduated from high school with those writing skills? I guess Delta H.S. is worse than even Cidney says.

        • July 13, 2016 at 9:15 am

          J..
          You stated you went to school with Cidney, and she is hateful and dark?
          These comments, leave me to believe you did not go to school with her. Anyone who went to school with Cidney knows she wanted change for the better of ALL students. She is witty, helpful and kind.
          She helped many of us on the speech team.
          You are either jealous of the attention she gets, or maybe a nasty boy whom she would not date.
          Either way, stop slandering Cidney.
          C

    • michael
      July 11, 2016 at 8:48 am

      You’re an idiot. Not everyone has the means to pick up and leave, nor should they have to…that is the purpose of the laws that are there to provide equal and fair protection to all parties…not just the dominant one.

    • Dave in Rhode Island
      July 11, 2016 at 9:31 am

      M,
      You are young, so a lot of leeway is granted to you as far as your understanding of what the United States of America stands for.

      This nation was never founded as a Christian nation, despite the recent attempts to claim such. Please look up the Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11, if you’re interested in the facts –

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Tripoli

      The United States of America was founded on the belief that all religious beliefs or even the lack of religious beliefs are the rights of all citizens.

      A question for you – How many times is God mentioned in the Constitution? I bet you didn’t know that the answer is exactly ZERO.

      You are free to live by your beliefs, just as Cidney and other atheists are. We are all Americans, and we all have the exact same rights. Asking someone to leave this country because their beliefs don’t align with yours is un-American, fearful, and contemptuous.

      Be well.

    • Bob
      July 11, 2016 at 10:44 am

      So.. it’s okay to provide religious students with support, but the moment a students beliefs don’t agree with yours, they have a negative attitude and can leave? Typical bigoted, hypocritical behaviour from the religious right. We have grown to expect this ugliness from you. Schools are legally required to provide a safe, non-judgemental environment for ALL students, not just the ones who share your idiotic and hateful religious beliefs. If you don’t like it, YOU can leave. Fortunately, your hateful ilk is dying off along with your shitty religion.

      • J.
        July 11, 2016 at 5:02 pm

        Your unclassy and hateful rhetoric is riven with falacis and is rooted in obviously uninformed bias toward the “religious right”. We are the most tollerant part of American society because we used to be dominant in nearly all aspects of life in our nation. If we had been as intolerant and bigoted as you claim, garbage ideology and speech like yours would have never been given protection in our Constitution.

        • RandyW
          July 11, 2016 at 5:46 pm

          Falacis, indeed.

          • Uncle Mike
            July 11, 2016 at 5:51 pm

            Baby, you couldn’t handle my huge falacis.

          • NavyVet
            July 11, 2016 at 6:12 pm

            And there are your Christian values right there . Thank you for showing your true colors, I’m sure your pastor is beaming with pride.

        • Matt
          July 11, 2016 at 8:07 pm

          Lies and hypocrisy I say! There us no such thing as a “tollerant” [sic] Christian. I say Atheist, you hear “devil worshipping non believer”. I don’t care that you believe what you do, just that youre somehow superior and more in the right than anyone else.

    • Tim
      July 11, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      I’m coming back to the county and starting an atheist club next move I make. America is NOT a Christian nation and the agendas of religious extremists do not belong in our schools. Bravo to Cidney and Anne Landman.

    • RandyW
      July 11, 2016 at 12:56 pm

      Wait, so you’re saying that if you’re not part of the majority, you should have no expectation of fair and equal treatment? Is that REALLY what you think it means to be American, or Christian?

    • NavyVet
      July 11, 2016 at 6:03 pm

      How does this make the schools actions any more legal. I don’t care if she etched a pentagram in her forehead, it would not change the illegal actions of the teachers or the gross negligence of the Shcools Adminstration.

    • commonsense
      July 12, 2016 at 10:56 pm

      @M: I love the way bible thumpers like you say nasty things about other people and then end your statements with “God Bless.” It makes you look like even more of a caricature. By the way, didn’t Jesus do pretty well at getting along with people who were very different from him? Why don’t you try that, see how it goes?

  28. Q
    July 10, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    I graduates from a Delta County high school some 20 years ago now, and things haven’t changed. A school should be a place of education, not a temple to athletics. It should be free of religious indoctrination, not a place where that’s just accepted.

    I.applaud this young lady for surviving, and I have no doubt she will thrive in Denver. No what do we do about the schools? There are still students trapped there.

    • Anne Landman
      July 10, 2016 at 11:34 pm

      According to the Colorado state Department of Education, Colorado is a “local control” state with regard to school districts, and the only thing that can be done when a school district is violating students’ civil rights are 1) elect new school board members, or 2) bring a lawsuit.

      I am aware that one parent has filed a complaint with the federal Department of Justice about the Delta County School District, another has alerted the ACLU of Colorado to this school district’s legal transgressions and violations of students’ civil rights, and a third family is contemplating getting a private lawyer and bringing a lawsuit against the district.

      • July 11, 2016 at 10:54 am

        Is the FFRF involved yet?

      • Navy et
        July 11, 2016 at 6:06 pm

        I like the lawsuit path, make sure it’s Filed in federal court.

  29. Herbie Beans
    July 10, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    Be careful, my dear. Christians who have infiltrated our school system are devious and underhanded and will destroy you if they can. Religion is a man-made construct to serve the needs of miscreants, control freaks and others with flawed personalities.
    The true believers think they are saving souls, and some will stop at nothing to accomplish that goal, including trampling all over your civil liberties and stifling your free thought, and stabbing fear into the hearts of school children whose parents are not there to put a stop to it.
    Having said that, I hope this young woman does not get sucked into the facist Left. She’s halfway there in her self righteous indignation. All she needs is a little more internet attention and to be co-opted by some social justice warriors. Hope she keeps a cool head and thinks for herself.

    • Bob
      July 11, 2016 at 10:51 am

      Sounds to me like she is thinking for herself just fine. Your backhanded post was pretty vile.

  30. Teresa
    July 10, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    Let me just say, there are two sides to every story. You got to tell yours. I would also like to hear from the other side. I find it a little difficult to belive that you(or she) were just this very matter of a fact, non trouble making,perfect student that you make yourself out to be,or that she makes herself it to be. So, to Cidney,The title of your story is about what is like to have a brain and go to school in Delta. You might HAVE a brain, but that doesn’t mean you know how to use it. If you did, you would have protested your case in a much more mature/intelligent way. I don’t deny schools waste money and spend where some think they should not. I also believe that money plays a big role in that (money of parents). I don’t believe that it was because of your “atheistic” views, that you were ostracized. I believe that it was probably your defiant attitude and disrespect for authority. I would like to see the proof otherwise. If the majority of the school are believers (in Christianity) you are most likely going to have a bend in that direction, I believe that the majority rules. In the case where my kids went to school it was the opposite majority, so,I chose to teach my kids at home. It was my choice, and since I too “Have a brain”, I used it to educate my kids.If poor grades were given because of how you”belive” that would be very wrong, but I would have to see proof. Anyone can rant and complain, but no one in their educated mind would believe a story like this without proof.This shows me the lack of brain power. Academics isn’t the only way to use your brain. There is such a thing as common sense.
    In closing, I believe this young woman is very intelligent and will make a very powerful follower of Jesus some day. That is when her brain will be getting used to fill capacity.

    • Jeebus
      July 10, 2016 at 10:10 pm

      It’s a shame that a person with such shitty writing skills, such as yourself, taught a child anything.

    • Nick
      July 10, 2016 at 10:15 pm

      A defiant attitude and disrespect for authority have been the hallmarks of most of the people who have truly made a difference in this world (including Jesus). They are certainly not a justified reason for lowering a students grades. Everything this girl did was aimed at bettering her community – it sounds like a lot of teachers and administrators in Delta don’t know how to do their jobs and have their priorities completely out of whack.

    • Anne Landman
      July 10, 2016 at 10:29 pm

      What?!? “If the majority of the school are believers (in Christianity) you are most likely going to have a bend in that direction, I believe that the majority rules.”

      Have you heard of something called rights? If we lived by majority rule, we’d still have slavery, debtors prison and be burning women at the stake for being “witches.”

      This is a crazy statement.

    • Amanda
      July 10, 2016 at 10:51 pm

      Wow…you just showcased the problem by saying she needs to be a follower of Jesus one day to be able to use her brain fully. It’s people like you that cause such division by blindly following a religion that teaches that anyone with a different belief from your own is wrong. “The mark of an educated mind is to be able to entertain a thought without having to accept it”-Aristotle. It would appear that you have missed the point of this article, and are indeed very closed minded. I am so proud of Cidney for standing up and doing the right thing, despite individuals like yourself. The world and this school system are better for it. I refuse to accept the excuse in any situation that “this is the way things have always been done, and that’s why we are right”. I welcome Delta County School District to the current century in which there are laws to separate church and state, I hope this will be a time of enlightenment for all. Cidney is an intelligent, fair-minded individual that should never have been penalized for her thoughtful and correct actions. I find that only under educated fools are offended when someone politely questions their actions, and then retaliates. These are the people to shield your children from, the ones who rule by fear with iron fists. My son will grow up in a better world because of people like Cidney. It doesn’t matter if she is liberal, conservative, etc-she saw illegal activity going on and challenged it (rightly so). I applaud her!

    • LastDawnOfMan
      July 10, 2016 at 11:01 pm

      It’s pretty obvious that there is absolutely no way that any person could manage to address the enormous problems at the school district in a way they would not find objectionable. It seems clear that you ultra conservative lunatics just want everyone else to keep their mouths shut so you can keep imposing your lifestyle on them. Why don’t YOU go move to Iran or someplace where like minded religious nutcases are in charge instead of trying to turn my country into another thoecratic hellscape?

    • James Sullivan
      July 10, 2016 at 11:16 pm

      You are what’s wrong with America and the education system..no wonder we are the laughing stock of the world

    • Mike Jardine
      July 11, 2016 at 1:18 am

      Religion has no place in a public school.

      If you misunderstood that, here it is again.

      Religion has no place in a PUBLIC SCHOOL.

      Don’t you remember there is a Separation of Church and State?

      Moreover, if people want religious based education for their kids, that’s just great!

      Send them to a parochial school. If there isn’t one nearby, START ONE.

      But don’t violate Federal and State Law by imposing this overtly Religious (CHRISTIAN) based, education.

      That’s the problem with you Fundamentalists, you have no problem preaching your bull to everyone else, but you won’t listen to Reason or Logic.

      Your way is the only way. Anything else that runs contrary to your perspective gets lost in Fundamentalism.

      Well, here’s the thing: using Public Mondy to preach Christianity in Delta Public Schools, is ILLEGAL.

      To retaliate against her for questioning authority is unethical and runs contrary to one of the principle purposes for which Public Education is meant: to create educated Adults who have critical thinking skills, can solve complex problems and are both self-aware, yet Socially conscious.

      You don’t get that from Fundamentalist based education. You get drones who never question Authority, especially if it’s “God” based. Whatever that means is, I am afraid, always up to Humans and almost always coincides with their own Prejudices.

      You get Adults that can’t really function in the World, who believe the Earth is 6000 years old, dinosaurs and Man lived together, and Science is the “Devils Work.” In short, you get our Federal Congress and the small, but very vocal, band of IDIOTS who have paralyzed our Nation.

      Surely, you want better for our country than THAT, right?

    • jon
      July 11, 2016 at 5:24 am

      What do Jesus and brain capacity have common? I don’t think i have heard anything more silly in a long time. Someone mentioned earlier “I hope she doesn’t go to far left” and I agree. I like that she stood up for a belief the fact that she can speak her truth in the face of certain consequences is admirable. I try to question everything especially if i know it to be true. I have come to learn over the years that some beliefs I never would have doubted were in fact FALSE and the cause of a lot of harm.
      How does a belief cause harm? How many wars have been fought because of beliefs and in the name of GOD. If god is all loving and his kids go to war in his name?

    • July 11, 2016 at 11:26 am

      Teresa,
      Are you aware of the fact that Cidney did not write this article? And further more…,
      We have proof of everything that happened to her. No one has to answer to friends of the Delta County school district, nor those who have different beliefs, and can not tolerate others who think for themselves.
      Maybe all of you “Good Christians” should red the RED WORDS in your Bible.. Then practice what is written.

  31. OneMom
    July 10, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    Can the ACLU help? My daughter will be going there in another year and I do not like what I am reading about the teachers.

    • laurie allen
      July 10, 2016 at 10:26 pm

      If it were me I’d talk to a lawyer about the retaliation before it goes into effect

    • Anne Landman
      July 10, 2016 at 10:32 pm

      Contact the ACLU of Colorado and urge them to take Cidney’s case. She has appealed to them for help. The only way to stop this school district’s behavior, according to the state Department of Education, is to elect new school board members or bring a lawsuit against them.

  32. Sarah
    July 10, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    Anne, is there a way that we can set up a fund for Cidney? She should be commended for her activism and bravery. I know she will do amazing things in the future, and would like to ensure that she doesn’t miss any great opportunities due to financing.

    • Anne Landman
      July 10, 2016 at 9:27 pm

      Yes, donations can be made to the Cidney Fisk Scholarship fund through Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers through the group’s “Donate” page on their website. It’s here: http://westerncoloradoatheists.org/77-2/

      Please make a note when donating thatthe funds are for the Cidney Fisk Scholarship Fund.

      WCAF is a 501(c)3 registered IRS charity, and donations are tax deductible. 100% of the funds donated will go towards Cidney’s education. (GoFundMe takes a 5% cut of every donation, and their pay system, WePay, takes another 2.9%. This way, Cidney will get the advantage of all of the money donated!)

  33. M
    July 10, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    I graduated a few years before Cidney; I didn’t go to the same Delta County School, but I can tell you it’s pretty much the same throughout other schools in the district. It’s not a secret that Delta County Schools prioritize sports over academics. It felt like if you weren’t an athlete, you were a nobody or a loser. That despite your personal reasons for not participating, you were somehow lesser than everyone else. Our school’s idea of sexual education was an assembly with a slide show that I don’t remember occurring more than once during my four years. It was a laughable experience, at best. I cannot for the life of me express how proud I am of this girl for publicly exposing this. *applause*

  34. DJ
    July 10, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    I grew up as in Delta County, nobody cared if I was an atheist or not. I felt completely comfortable believing what I thought was right. I would have felt much more comfortable saying that I was an atheist than saying that I wanted to keep marijuana illegal which is a real problem in that county. I call bullshit on this blog.

    • Kevin Stone
      July 10, 2016 at 10:32 pm

      So because your experience was different from hers, there’s no problem? So what you’re saying is, If I get decent service from Verizon but they treat you like hell then I should be able to safely assume that your complaints are misguided. After all, I didn’t experience any problem therefore your complaints must be composed of bullshit. You’re inventing it somehow. It’s a creation. You weren’t actually mistreated. Is that about right, DJ? Sometimes it helps to reframe an argument like this to see its flaws. The obvious flaw here is that there are 7 Billion people on the planet and no two share exactly the same set of experiences. It doesn’t mean there aren’t serious issues to address. And we’d be fools to dismiss the very serious allegations of Cidney and others singled out by those in charge because they spoke up about problems in the system.

      • Abner
        July 10, 2016 at 10:47 pm

        Perhaps DJ is one of those atheists originally raised by Christians, so not attuned to the evangelizing…or just too self-centered to care about anyone else. They are teenagers, after all, and Cindey just happened to be one of the more exceptional ones.

      • Jon
        July 11, 2016 at 5:26 am

        great reply sir

    • Uncle Mike
      July 11, 2016 at 10:36 am

      Did you even read the article? Cidney’s personal beliefs weren’t the problem. It was when she stood up and spoke out about what her school was doing (which was illegal, mind you) that she caught hell.

      Were you as vocal as she? Were you speaking against admin? No? Then hush, child.

  35. Thomas Wills
    July 10, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    Wow! What a well written comprehensive piece. Thank you!

  36. S
    July 10, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    As a former employee of this district, as well as a parent of a CES student, I am disgusted, but unfortunately not surprised, by the actions and responses of DHS. As an agnostic, I did not appreciate my daughter coming home from school asking why we don’t pray at dinner. As an educator, I did not appreciate that I was not only forbidden from answering student questions about sex ed, but also directly ordered to support the abstinence only stance. Proposals on my and teams part to expand sex ed were completely ignored. This student should have been applauded for her engagement, regardless if her political and personal beliefs, because THAT’S is the purpose of education. We are not here to be mindless drones. I hope she knows, and will definitely learn in Denver, that she does have an important voice, and we educators exist who support her right to an education free from religious dogma and “athletes first” mentality. Good job, Cidney.

    • Anne Landman
      July 10, 2016 at 8:22 pm

      Bravo, thank you for your comment, S.

  37. Scott Jorgensen
    July 10, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    This is a very old story. Not Cindy’s in particular, but this kind of drama. It’s iconic, even archetypal when it comes to education in the United States.

    I was a sophomore at Bountiful High School (Bountiful, Utah) in 1975. I probably don’t need to tell you what sort of political/cultural orientation this town had back then, and probably still does. I also don’t need to warn you what could happen when a left wing, rights oriented Progressive artist like myself found themselves in that school system. For those who do not know, Utah Mormon communities are probably the most insulated in the nation, and do not take kindly to interference from without, or questioning of their cultural traditions and the teachings of the LDS Church. For my part, I was not a school leader. Just an artist/musician making my way through the labyrinth of growing up and getting through school. But I sure saw a lot that was wrong. Starting with, of course, the finances of Bountiful High School.

    As a school that served a generally well off community, we had money. But oddly enough, we didn’t have a school band worth a crap because the instruments were barely functioning, held together with tape in some instances. The art studios were operating with outdated supplies when they had them at all. The piano for the madrigals and chorus was an old beater, and the required uniforms for the musicians were provided by the families of the participants. In short, their art and music programs were a disgrace. But…

    The athletic department. of course, was overflowing with cash. The football team got new uniforms every year, the work out rooms were upgraded almost as often, and the team even had it’s own helicopter. Yes, you read that right. Helicopter. All while the arts were rotting from the head down at this school.

    Taking these concerns to my art and music teachers meant they ended with them. No word even got to the principal’s office let alone to the district. The teachers were too scared to say a word, for fear of their jobs. They quietly ate the gruel the district allowed them and soldiered on, almost apologetically, to the students.

    Then when the school elections started, with campaign posters showing up with the most appalling racist hatred in them you could imagine, I got bolder and went to the principal. I also reminded him that the pep rally with students performing in Black Face was really disgusting in this day and age, is is not serving the student body or our community.

    What did I get for my trouble? The usual. I got “the attitude talk”. They sat me down and explained to me that boat rockers, authority questioners and “general trouble makers” are not good for the community. I was told that I lacked school spirit for bringing up all these complaints. That my “faith was obviously weak”. Good thing I didn’t tell them at the time I did not believe in the Mormon Church anymore. I may have been lynched.

    So, nice try Cindy – but this is a drama nearly as old as our nation. The fact that it is still playing out in this day and age is a real downer. In fact, it looks worse today in many ways. So let this be a cautionary tale to those who want to do what Cindy and I did in their schools. Be prepared to have the whole shit house fall down around your ears for your trouble, because that is very likely what will happen.

    Dissent is not a family or civic value anymore. I’m sorry about that.

  38. de
    July 10, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    The problems that Cidney had with the school system simply underscores the divide that plagues America right now. It is definitely wrong that she was seemingly harassed by teachers and others who probably over-reacted out of fear. Fear of the unknown.
    There probably are no ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ in this event. This ‘Left’ vs ‘Right’, Liberal vs Conservative boxing match has been forming for probably 50+ years. The lack of understanding, each of the other’s point of view , is now endemic here (really separate world views that have a long history in each case: children of the Enlightenment vs children of ancient religious traditions.) They rarely talk with, but at, each other. It is good to realize that neither ‘side’ is totally right or wrong. Each has valuable insights and important wisdom.
    It is worth noting that it has been said that ‘Western civilization is Christianity gone crazy’, and that the real tradition from the early days of Greece, Roman Empire etc is unknown here for the most part. Western Christianity -Roman Catholic and Protestant alike- needs vast correction. (but it is available for those willing to look)
    Likewise, the Liberal traditions in the West have brought an undervaluing of human life, ‘dumbing down’ the definition of person-hood to where we are disposable, interchangeable and without any real essence or unique individuality. Nihilism, no anchor in Life. Freedom as license without response-ability.
    It’s a mess all around. A little humility would be welcome on both sides.

    • Kay
      July 10, 2016 at 6:23 pm

      So many falsehoods in your “understanding” of liberals it is a joke. Nihilism is not the opposite of “heavenly afterlife” or whatever fantasy you are ascribing to. A person is but one living organism on this planet, not THE only one, or the “important” one, as in; “made in gawds image”. When a person dies, the are not anihilated, but transformed from one form to another. A body dies and becomes earth and food and rejoins with the environment, feeding and supporting the next generations of life. They are not anihilated, they have left their mark on the people they knew, whether good or bad, they have left their wisdom and lessons and experiences with their present generation.
      Nihilism is not the opposite of “saved”.
      And yes, forcing religious beliefs on others is abuse and illegal. In the case of birth control, reaching false information is dangerous and irresponsible.

      • Teresa
        July 10, 2016 at 9:28 pm

        Wow,……..just wow

        • V
          July 11, 2016 at 1:30 am

          You are afraid isn’t it ? It’s such a departure from your deeply held beliefs.

    • Vestal
      July 13, 2016 at 12:48 am

      Lack of understanding?

      Conservatives would have it that Christianity is the national religion.

      Conservatives are actively building their presidential platform on discriminatory practices which benefit only Christians.

      What’ really so difficult to understand about the conservative view as it actually impacts the whole of the Nation?

      • Paul
        July 12, 2017 at 9:16 am

        What you just said proves his point. Your statements about Conservatives is so pathetically misinformed or arrogantly dishonest (or both) that it blows my mind that think you even left a comment giving two seconds to think before making yourself look like a child throwing a tantrum. Remember, it’s better to look like a fool than open your mouth a remove all doubt.

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