Parent upset by ‘Survivor’ school year theme, school says it’s unrelated to coronavirus

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DUNEDIN, Fla. (WFLA) – In Pinellas County, one school’s attempt to start off the new year with a new theme is stirring up controversy.

The Discovery Academy of Science Charter School in Dunedin told 8 On Your Side that years past they had themes like “Superheros” and “Teamwork”. One parent said this year’s theme “Survivor” is inappropriate because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s upsetting, I don’t want to think about survival, or people not surviving this…I don’t want to think of this as a tv show. Ultimately it’s not a game,” said Amy Harper-Smith who’s son started online kindergarten Monday at the Discovery Academy of Science Charter School.

She said this year’s theme “Survivor” based on the tv show is in poor taste.

“At the end [of the TV show] there’s one person left. That’s not appropriate when we’re dealing with a global pandemic where people are literally dying. Nobody wins in this game,” Harper-Smith said.

8 On Your Side took her concerns to the Dean of Students Craig Prindle who does not see an issue with the theme.

“Anybody can take anything out of context really. Our focus for the ‘Survivor’ theme was strictly our classrooms being villages, the competition side of it, and letting kids know they can overcome these challenges… It had nothing to do with COVID-19 at all,” Prindle said.

Prindle said last week the school administration decided to change the theme from ‘Survivor’ to ‘D.A.S. Villagers’.

Harper-Smith said she doesn’t think the theme change would have happened without 8 On Your Side’s story.

She said Friday school administration sent her an e-mail saying a spirit shirt unrelated to ‘Survivor’ would be available for purchase “as well” but did not indicate a theme change.

“I knew there had to be other people who felt like I did that this was inappropriate,” Harper-Smith said.

“I would like to apologize if it did offend anyone,” Prindle said. “That was never our intent. We’re a school, we’re educators, we’re here for the families, here for the communities, we want everyone to come to school, be safe and have fun,” he continued.

Administration sent us the internal e-mail that went to teachers Thursday about the theme change.

Parents said they weren’t notified about the theme change until Monday afternoon, after 8 On Your Side spoke with the school administration.

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