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A Lens of White: An Opinion on the MHS Football Senior Photo 08/2020

Updated: Jul 21, 2022


It’s the irony of it all. On Thursday, August 21, 2020, Sarah Paul wrote a riveting post to social media labeled “This is wrong.”  Attached to her post was an image of my high school alma mater’s football team brandishing many different symbols. Symbols like the American flag, the Ohio flag, but also a string of black and white “American-adjacent” flags: including the same flag that white supremacists have nationally brandished while chanting “Blue Lives Matter” in opposition to the #BlackLivesMatter Movement. The first person to comment on her Facebook post was an extremely good friend of mine who followed by creating a petition to further bring awareness to the negative implications of the photo. And then the hate poured in. 

The irony for me starts during the first week of my freshman year at Marysville High School. One of our first assignments in World Studies class was to draft a short argument about a topic we recently learned that week and have a class discussion the following day. I, being an aspiring lawyer, was bent on drafting the most compelling argument to present in class. After all, I was always encouraged, especially as a black female student, to continuously work twice as hard as my white peers in everything in order to be seen. Yet, this story is about the girl who presented her argument last, she was a girl that I had heard of but never really got the chance to talk to. Her name was Sarah Paul. In those short few seconds of an aimless classroom debate, she shined and presented an argument that was hands-down the most creative and added a new perspective to the conversation. From that point on I knew I needed to be her friend, or more so her protégé, and that is what she became for me. Later that year, we were put on the same mock trial team (admittedly, I requested on my forms that I required to work with her and no one else) and she became much more than just a mentor/teammate, she became my friend. 

Throughout our time in high school, Sarah became a skilled debater. By our senior year, we became a state-qualifying mock trial team, and Sarah single-handedly became the most decorated moot court participant in MHS’s entire history. She also was my right-hand woman as my chief of staff at Buckeye Girls State, and further graced her talents at Ohio State University where she became a prominent member of the most competitive mock trial team in the state. Needless to say, Sarah knows how to argue and argue well. She knows how to speak to the unspoken perspectives. Then, conversely, there is Chase, who I became close with similarly in the classroom and is frankly one of the most hardworking, talented, and intelligent people I know. He showed me what it meant to be an outstanding student, a supportive friend, and an inspiring creator.

Therefore, I felt many things on August 21, 2020, after reading her post - and the subsequent comments - but one notable expression that I couldn’t ignore was the irony of people calling Sarah Paul and Chase Cutarelli, both MHS Valedictorians, stupid and uninformed.