Local/State

Student says assignment was inappropriate

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Cumberland County high school student says a homework assignment violated her Christian beliefs, so she took a stand.

Tieanna Trough is an A-B honor roll student at Gray's Creek High School. The junior potentially sacrificed her good grades over her Christian faith.

Trough refused to write an essay on making a deal with the Devil.

"I believe you don't write about how to sell your soul to the Devil," she said.

Trough's English class was studying the Washington Irving short story "The Devil and Tom Walker" - a miser who makes a get rich deal with the devil, then later tries to back out of the deal.

Trough says when the teacher told students to write an essay on how they would sell their souls - or what trade they would make with the Devil - she refused, saying that compromised her Christian values and her parents agreed.

"We can't allow God into the classrooms, but yet they are going to allow the Devil in the classroom, that's the way I felt," Trough's mother Monice McLean said. "They were told if they didn't do it they would get a zero."

Monice McLean-Trough says an alternate assignment was also unacceptable, so they complained to school officials.

"I think we had a genuine complaint and we just got lip service instead of really getting attention to the subject," father Frank Trough said.

Trough says other classmates also objected to the assignment.

But the school's principal, John Gibbs, says the short story is text-book curriculum and he hasn't heard any other complaints.

"I don't think it's anything wrong," Gibbs said. "I mean parents are going to do what they think is correct and I respect that, we can sit down and talk about what we think is right."

Trough says what's right is not making a deal with the Devil.

Monday, the school gave Trough a third alternate subject, how and why money is important.

Trough and her parents say that is more agreeable - if not a harder subject to explain.

Trough's parents say they wanted to get their story out just to make sure other parents are aware of what - and how - some things are being taught.

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