School Officials Appreciate American Idol

American Idol is known for creating controversy on their show, but not many expected such a local backlash after they featured an eastern Kentucky school on their program last Wednesday.

Despite what some are calling negative stereotypes on the show, WYMT's Jon Sonnheim explains why many around the school are singing their praises.

Shortly after an American Idol story aired describing, Eastern Kentucky in this way...

“Many folks here are without the services and conveniences that most of us take for granted, and the fact that so many people can't read is one of the reasons that poverty lasts a long time in this part of America.”

Some in Kentucky were already feeling outrage at what they saw as negative stereotypes imposed upon the region.

“I saw on the show last night, and I was very disappointed on the implications of what was on American Idol,” Governor Ernie Fletcher said.

It was a story aimed at improving literacy featuring Beckham Bates Elementary as a school facing great odds.

For those around the school, words like outrage and disappointment are not being used.

Instead saying they're so proud of the students who contributed to this story.

“The story was about these kids overcoming obstacles and having test scores that are shooting through the roof and learning to read,” Principal Twyla Messer said.

“Te whole concept here is it's not about this community, it's not about eastern Kentucky,” Nell Fields said.

School officials say they've received countless letters, phone calls, and emails from other children across the country.

“Kids wanting to help other kids, which I think is beautiful,” Principal Messer said.

American Idol's website says they have already raised more than 60 million dollars for poverty and literacy relief programs in Africa and America.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Lavonna Location: Orlando, FL on May 3, 2007 at 01:31 PM
    I was born and raised in Eastern,Ky and I know first-hand how really bad it is there. Yes, many people are educated, but to Ky's shame, many are not. The people complaining, should open their eyes to see just what that region is all about. Pray for help for your future generation and that the current course Eastern Ky is on turns around. Open your arms wide, welcome any help offered! End the "false pride." Remember, if you keep on doing what you've always done, then you are living what your children's future will be.
  • by Jim Location: London on May 1, 2007 at 12:01 PM
    Myself and countless others before and after me will have to face the negative sterotypes about our people and our region. We must continue to endure and subsequently prevail even with all the negative press and outrageous misconceptions. The most effective way to debunk a stereotype about our people is to celebrate our rich heritage and cultural values with pride, while also presenting ourselves in a manner that is consistent with self respect and self esteem. When we choose a path toward success and work hard to acheive we then will demonstrate our compentency, then others will have no choice but to re-evaluate their faulty beliefs about our region and our wonderful people in Appalachia.
  • by Sue Location: Middlesboro, Ky on Apr 30, 2007 at 08:16 PM
    I thought the piece about SE Ky.on American Idol was wonderful--it needed to be brought to light, because it's true. I'm ashamed our esteemed Governor doesn't feel this way-maybe, if he ever goes to trial-He can have time to think about poverty here in KY.

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