Eliza Schaaf’s speech to the public

Earlier this week, Eliza was hoping to be able to speak to the students and staff of AHS. Given the weather, time constraints and other circumstances, Eliza was unable to give her prepared speech. The following is what she would like to tell her Ashland High School friends:


Some of you know who I am. For those who don’t know me, my name is Eliza Schaaf and I graduated from Ashland High School with a modified diploma last June.  I live up on the Greensprings with my family. I went to school from Kindergarten through 8th grade at Pinehurst School. For the last four years I have been a student at AHS. While I was here I took many classes. I had classes with some of you. I’ve always considered myself a good student. I try my best even if I don’t like the assignment.

I am here today to talk to you about something that happened to me recently. You may have seen me lately in the newspaper. Well, I want to tell you what happened and see if you can help me.

In August, I went in to SOU to enroll as a non-admitted student. I just wanted to take one class to see what college is like.  I liked going to school with all of you and thought it would be fun to meet new friends my age.

On my birthday, August 16th, I signed up online for a class. I wanted photography but the classes were full. I like working with clay so instead of photography, I chose introduction to ceramics. Those of you who have had classes with me know that I like having an educational assistant with me to help me sometimes. Well, for college, my Mom said she would come help.

September 27th was my first day of class as an SOU student. I was definitely a little nervous!  I had met my professor, Robin Strangfeld, during orientation. She is nice. The 1st class I met some of the other students at my table – Jordan, Lisa, Mollie and Sarah. We had some interesting assignments – like think of something that flies then work in a group and combine your ideas. Lisa, Jordan and I worked together. I thought of birds, Jordan thought of pie, and Lisa thought of balloons. This is what we made.

The 2nd week of class, the college asked my Mom not to help me. I didn’t like that but Mom said those were the rules at college.

After the 4th class I was asked to come in to talk to the Dean of Students. I felt humiliated and nervous about that. I was afraid I had done something wrong.

We met with some administrators at SOU. A lot of what was talked about was me. I was asked to switch from credit to audit so I could get help without breaking the rules. Laura O’Bryon is the Dean of students and she asked if I would be OK with having an art major student work with me.  I thought that might be OK. When Mom and I got back to class, she asked my Professor if she could help me when I needed it.  I was glad Robin said OK. Some of the assignments are tricky.

Mom and I came to class every day. I worked hard making my coil project which was a tissue box. Then we had a slab project. I had to try and make something that meant a lot to me and use 15 pounds of clay. That may not sound like a lot, but it is!

I chose to make a nature scene because I live on the Greensprings. Nature is all around me. I also like flowers, trees, campfires and singing so, guess what, that’s what I did.  When I finished we still had a lot of clay not used. Mom thought I should make a rainbow. I do like rainbows.  I thought maybe instead night and day skies.

Every Monday and Wednesday (from 1:00-3:50) I looked forward to going to class. We also came in many hours outside of class to work. I really enjoy working with clay. It is challenging and fun.

On November 8, I got a letter from Alissa Arp the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. She said I can’t be a student at SOU anymore. I was told I couldn’t go back to class. This did not sit well with me. I have projects to finish. I am still frustrated and upset. I do not know why the SOU administration won’t let me be a student. I try my best. I don’t bother anyone. I just do my work. I come to class.

I have now missed 3 classes. I am not happy about that.

Some of you might be surprised that I can get up in front of all of you and speak. You know that I am quiet in class. Well a lot of what I know how to do is because of going to school with you. I watch, I listen and I try things. I like being included. I like having time to work on things. Speeches and power points work for me because I can think about it ahead of time.

The ceramics class worked for me because mostly I could just work on my projects. I could listen to my classmates. And when it was my turn to do a critique of my tissue box, I wrote down my thoughts ahead of time. I was proud to share about my work.

Last week an interesting thing happened. My ceramics classmate, Mollie, asked me to come with her to the ASSOU student senate. There were mostly people there I didn’t know. I prepared a statement ahead of time about how I was feeling. When student Senator Paul Jenkins yielded the floor (whatever that means!) to me I stood up and spoke.

Mom read a letter that my good friend Erika Hultz wrote. Mollie told everybody that all the kids in my ceramics class want me to come back. After that the student Senators voted on a resolution which is like a statement. They all voted that they want me back. That made me feel good.

But, here’s the thing, the letter I just got from the SOU administrators says I still can’t go back to my class. Why Not? Mom says it’s kind of like Rosa Parks and the bus. All I can say is I don’t want to be Rosa Parks. I don’t want to be arrested. I just want to go to my last 2 classes. I want to see my friends’ projects and hear their final critiques and I want to let them see and hear mine.

Thank You,

Eliza Schaaf