Net sensation lives on

By Peter de Graaf of The Northern Advocate -
Northland College principal John Tapene. Photo / File
Northland College principal John Tapene. Photo / File

A Northland college principal has received more than 100 emails from around the world after a school newsletter went viral and was shared by thousands on Facebook.

Two years ago Northland College head John Tapene included in his fortnightly school newsletter a speech from a Youth Court judge urging teens to stop complaining they had nothing to do and to take responsibility for their lives.

After the excerpt was printed in the Kaitaia-based Northland Age it was picked up by other newspapers and spread from there, appearing in hundreds of blogs dealing with everything from parenting to business and has been shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook.

Mr Tapene said he had been contacted by more than 100 people, many from the US, since his newsletter became an internet sensation.

He was "a little bit surprised" by the global response, especially because the judge's speech was somewhat dated.

Only one response had been negative, from a youth worker in America who felt the piece was one-eyed and negative.

Mr Tapene had written back to her saying the words were not his but those of a judge, and that he did not agree with everything the judge had said but wanted to challenge people's thinking and promote debate.

The Facebook frenzy had also spurred old friends to get in touch and put Northland College's name out into the world.

Mr Tapene first read the text, which has since been attributed to a 1959 speech by a Judge Phillip B. Gilliam of Denver, US, in a mail-out from the Secondary Principals Association.

It is still generating interest. Northland Age editor Peter Jackson was asked last week by Lifeline in Indiana, US, for a copy of the paper's original May 2010 story.

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