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In the spring of 1970, I was a student at Westerville High School and a cast member of the spring musical under the direction of Ron Nocks.  On one Thursday evening rehearsal, I was neither an experienced actor nor a talented one and I was most certainly not able to act as if I was not afraid of heights as I carefully climbed down a naked flight of stairs onto a raked stage wearing a helmet obscuring my vision. Later on, as a teacher, I would have hoped that I could have cared enough to individually help a student through a difficult problem and possibly even help them gain confidence.  I know that many of my students would agree that I was that caring teacher.  I know that some would not.

That evening, Ron Nocks was not that caring teacher.  At the rundown that evening in Room 201 in the presence of the entire cast and crew, he publicly dressed me down for my lack of confidence and my lack of courage.  He used his wicked and well-honed sarcasm to embarrass me and make me an outcast among kids who had been my classmates and neighbors since kindergarten.  Specifically, he asked me if my toilet was closer to the floor to compensate for my fear of heights.

I was never a victim of sexual abuse by Mr. Nocks or anyone else.  I know that most of the students in that room loved and worshipped Mr. Nocks. To a man with the ego and talent such as his, it leads him to appreciate the hero worship among his favorites and sometimes to take advantage of them as he has admitted. It also leads to an arrogance that allows him to verbally abuse the students who were not his favorites. It is this collection and exercise of raw personal power toward subordinates that has become such a difficult issue at present.

I do not desire nor expect an apology.  If he is in such a mood, maybe he could join me in apologizing to my students who received some of the same sarcastic treatment because that night in Room 201, he set an example and gave me, a high school junior, permission to act that way to my students in the future.   That is the crux of this problem.  That is the chain of abuse that goes from generation to generation.

I will never receive justice nor will any other victim of the abuse of power by those with talent and position. But if there is justice to be paid, follow the advice of Coach Hayes and Pay it Forward.  Don’t abuse.  Don’t accept abuse and don’t tolerate it towards others in your presence or in your organization.

That said, there is a paradox. Before and even after that night, I was a fan of the work of Mr. Nocks and I attended his plays.  More specifically, I admired and emulated him as a public address announcer during the morning announcements and I became a very accomplished sports public address announcer in San Diego.  That’s the rub.  That’s the quandary.  That is the love-hate relationship we have in our society with people who have immense talent or power. But, that night, he hurt me.

Rick Lakin

Retired Teacher and Publisher

Chula Vista, California

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