PEQUOT, SD --- When Pequot High School's teachers protested the newly installed "C" honor roll by coming to work drunk, superintendent Pat "The Freezer" Burn promptly suspended the entire faculty. Fred Sherman, who teaches Band, freely admits he also was drunk that fateful day, but says that had nothing to do with the protest action. Fred Sherman now has his job back.
Sherman has been teaching Band at Pequot High School for nearly thirty years; he says he has been drinking at work for over twenty-five.
"I've never made it a secret," he said defiantly. "You listen to these guys six, eight hours a day, you'd be drinking on the job, too. Besides, it's not like I'm not sharing. Ask anyone: kids, parents, teachers. Heck, even Pat (Burn) has been over here a couple times, knocking back a few with me."
Sherman said he was "angered and hurt" by Burn's disciplinary action. He said the stigma of being labeled a protester was especially embarrassing.
"You come to work every day, you do your job as good as you can, and then your friend and bar buddy lays you off and calls you an atheist and a Commie," he added. "That's what really hurts."
Burn accepted Sherman's explanation and immediately reinstated him. Sherman's drinking, he said, had indeed been no secret. Burn conceded that he himself would also have taken to drink were he in Sherman's position.
"They really sound terrible," he said, chuckling. "I didn't mean to unjustly penalize Fred, and I hope there are no hard feelings."
John Merrick, who served as one of the school's six custodians, but was drafted into subbing for Sherman, expressed relief.
"Fred's a real nice guy," he said. "I'm glad he's back teaching band. Besides, I sort of got tired of showing them ‘Mr. Holland's Opus' over and over again."
Merrick said that most non-certified personnel who have found themselves in charge of one of Pequot's classrooms have been showing movies about inspirational teachers, such as Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, and The Substitute III.
Glad to be working again, Sherman said he would probably forgive Burn, as long as his suspension would be expunged from his personnel file.
Replied Burn, "We have a deal, Mr. Sherman."