The ribbon will be a centerpiece of the grand celebration planned Friday, October 3, when Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be in Joplin for ceremonies commemorating the opening of the new Joplin High School/Franklin Technical Center.
In an effort to gain entrance into the Guinness Book of World Records, the six-and-a-half-mile ribbon will be wrapped around the entire high school complex.
What was uncertain until Huff admitted it to the teachers during a meeting the week before school opened (at every building except the high school) was who originated the idea.
Huff told the teachers it was his idea and he did it because "I am so proud of this school" and because "I am competitive."
The ribbon idea has been ridiculed by many since it was first revealed in the June 6 Turner Report. Huff has maintained his distance from it in comments made to the media and in a recent "Real or Rumor" blog that he wrote.
In a media interview, R-8 Board of Education President Annie Sharp said the ribbon was a Bright Futures idea.
"We'll have a big kickoff. If people want to be a part of history, we're selling a ribbon we are going to wrap around the whole, entire high school. You can purchase an inch, a foot, whatever and have a part of history.
"We're trying to make the Guinness Book of World Records. It's an activity Bright Futures is doing."
That was quickly denied
Immediately after the idea of the ribbon, which will cost $11,500, was revealed, some said it was the brainchild of Link Crew, a high school organization. That, too, was denied, and later it was said that the idea came from some members of Link Crew, with the indication that they came up with the idea on their own.
The $11,500 was also the source of conflicting messages from the Huff Administration. Depending on when statements were being made, it had been paid for by sponsors or sponsors were being sought to pay for it.
In a comment to the Turner Report, which was later turned into a separate post, someone claiming to be a high school student wrote the following:
Furthermore, to the fine people who have commented, many of you simply have not taken the time to inform yourselves of the situation that has perplexed the high school. The purchase of the ribbon was extremely well researched and done in a way that saved a considerable amount. It was done not just for the school, but for the fine city that helped us take flight once again.
During an interview with KZRG on August 13, Huff failed to take credit for the ribbon idea, making it sound, in carefully parsed words, that he was following the lead of high school students. He said he had been working with a student group, though he never specified which group.
From the August 13 Turner Report coverage of the KZRG interview:
Huff said the ribbon-cutting ceremony is a special event. "Everybody wants to be a part of it." He added that "we have some sponsors for it."
The $11,000 cost is not out of line for the ribbon, Huff said. "We will have well over 10,000 people at that event. We have to have some kind of memento." He said the cost was about $1 a person, though he never explained what that had to do with anything.
On Facebook posts, Huff has been criticized for collecting donations for a ribbon when the district has other, more compelling needs. "We can't tell people who want to spend money on the ribbon that we're going to take their money and use it on something else,"
This should really not even be a controversy, Huff indicated.
"There are some elements of this community who want to see us fail. If I fail, our kids fail. The kids are defending our position."
Huff stressed that no district funds will be spent for the ribbon.
"That would be dumb."
The KZRG interview took place three days after Huff ran the "Real or Rumor" blog in which he purported to give the facts about the ribbon, yet again carefully failed to mention that the idea was his:
Here are the facts:Why the ribbon? We want to celebrate! The opening of this school is a once-in-a-lifetime moment for ourstudents, staff, parents, and community. It symbolizes the end of a long, difficult journey and the beginning of a new era for Joplin Schools. It is a big deal to many, many people who have made sacrifices for the last three years to get to this point - students, staff members, parents, and others. It took thousands of from across the world and the support of our entire community to make this school happen. We wanted to create an event that would allow our entire community to participate if they choose.
You are invited to join us on October 3 to be a part of this moment in Joplin's history. We hope you'll come and celebrate recovery, resilience, and the future of Joplin Schools.