I am writing on behalf of a group of former FPMS students and parents. I would like to express my extreme disappointment in Principal Karen Bukowski and the decisions that have recently been made at Forest Park Middle School. I graduated from FPMS in 1995 and hold the memories and experiences I had at this school very close to my heart. I was recently informed of the gym floor being remodeled and the removal a symbol from the floor and a certain banner being removed from the wall. Some may not think this is a big deal, but to a certain group of students, parents and coaches, this is a huge deal.

I was told the symbol on the gym floor, which consisted of a panther and the words “Pride, Hard Work, Excellence,” was removed. I was completely offended by this. Mr. Fred O’Connor awarded his teams with that symbol for exemplifying everything it said: Pride in our school, hard work in the gym and classroom, and excellence (our reputation as a successful, respectful, and winning program). Removing this was completely disrespectful to Mr. O’Connor and each and every student he coached.

I also feel the need to bring something else to the attention of my former teammates, classmates, and teachers. It was decided by Miss Bukowski to remove a banner from the gym wall that was dedicated to my friend, Katie Rossiter. Katie exemplified everything you would want in a friend, teammate and student. When she passed away Dec. 27, 2001, in a tragic car accident, Mr. O’Connor made sure her memory would be preserved in the FPMS gym forever. I remember Katie’s memorial service at St. Bernardine’s Church when Mr. O’Connor presented a banner to Katie’s family and friends and let them know they could always return to FPMS and see that banner hung in her memory.

Unfortunately, this was not something Miss Bukowski thought was important and had the banner removed. I can’t imagine there wasn’t enough room on the wall, but I feel Katie’s family, friends, and most importantly, Mr. O’Connor, deserve an explanation. It just breaks my heart to think about how much she loved that school and playing in that gym, yet she wasn’t important enough to hold a very small spot on the wall.

I am incredibly saddened by the direction this school is taking to remove all of these positive memories that graduates have left behind. I have always been proud to say I went to FPMS, but I can truly say I don’t feel the same about this school anymore. I read the recent article about failing test scores and how the school is most likely going to fail to meet federal goals this year. I wish the focus of the principal could be shifted more to the test scores of current students than wiping away positive footprints my class and previous classes have left behind.

Tiffany Fustar
LaGrange Park