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No More Rocking While Rolling to School

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The students at Henry L. Cottrell Elementary School in Maine won't be listening to that old-time rock 'n' roll anymore--at least not on the six buses that drive them back and forth to school. Far from soothing the soul, the rock music on the buses' radios has raised the hackles of some of the students' parents.

John Seiler, the principal of the elementary school, said that after a number of complaints from parents about the rock songs, particularly Madonna's hit song "Like a Virgin," he had suggested that hard-rock music not be played on the buses.

"The songs on the radio make sex sound like a game of volleyball," he said last week.

However, the entire controversy, picked up by the local media, has become a lesson in democracy for the 355 students at the school. After the bus drivers switched to a radio station that plays only instrumental music, Chad Beckim, the president of the student council, joined some friends in launching a petition drive to get the rock music reinstated.

Mr. Seiler said he encouraged the petition drive and planned to hold an open forum last Friday on the pros and cons of the issue.

"I like rock and roll myself," he said. "However I don't feel kids should be a locked-in audience on a school bus that plays songs like [Madonna's]."

The principal said he believes the students will not demand that hard rock be played on the buses after they hear both sides of the issue. "Under proper guidance, I think they can make the proper decision," he said.

Chad agreed, saying he now thinks a compromise can be reached and would vote in favor of having soft rock on the radios.

"I did some research over the weekend and listened to the hard-rock stations, and realized most of the songs referred to love and sex and violence," the 11-year-old said. "That's okay for the 5th and 6th graders, but not for the younger grades." But he added that he and his friends would be disappointed if the principal rules in favor of only instrumental music.

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