Newton North High School senior Henry DeGroot was visiting a school outside Beijing on a semester abroad this year when he decided to have some fun and also make a point by writing prodemocracy messages in the notebook of a Chinese student.
“Democracy is for cool kids,” he recalls writing. “Don’t believe the lies your school and government tell you,” said another message, and “It’s right to rebel.”
But when Chinese school officials found out, he had to serve five hours of detention. And when he returned home, it got worse: Newton school officials barred DeGroot from his prom.
Newton school officials say he violated semester abroad rules, embarrassed the principal of the Chinese school that was hosting Newton students, and showed so much disrespect for the Chinese that the longstanding relationship with the school may be harmed.
DeGroot sees it differently.
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