Fake News Gets Real in Rockland
Jasmin Morse, Veritas Editor-in-Chief and Web Editor
At 10:45 a.m. on Friday morning the Rockland world was shocked to see on the “The Real Rockland” Facebook page an alarming (and not sourced) post remarking how the 2019 graduation may break the long tradition of being held in the Veterans’ Memorial Stadium, and instead may have to be held inside RHS.
The “news” spread rapidly through “The Real Rockland’s” Facebook community as well as the senior class. The post sourced this breaking information to a “little birdie” who was not the poster’s child, and instead to a member of the senior class who had spoken to Principal John Harrison. However, regarding the “little birdie” who had relayed the information to the Facebook poster, Principal Harrison confirmed to the Veritas, “No student talked to me.” He also said, “No student contacted me, no parent called or emailed” to verify the validity of the rumor after it had been posted.
One of 55 comments to the original post, citing the “fake news” in the post, referred to a press release from Interim Town Administrator, Marcia Birmingham sent to the media that states, “The project (the stadium) is expected to be completed in the springtime, in time for Rockland High School’s graduation ceremony May 31.” But responses to that comment said that “expected to be” is not a confident reassurance for its completion in time.
Realizing that social media is not the place to get the facts, the Veritas contacted Park Department Superintendent, Peter Ewell and Commissioners of the Park Department, Richard Furlong and Joe Reis who helped the Veritas to dispel the rumors.
Mr. Ewell, in response to the Veritas’ inquiry and after all the buzz on Friday, claimed his phone had been “blowing up” from citizens reaching out frantically about the post. In response he assured, “Yes, the stadium will be ready. We had a meeting with the owner of CSI company yesterday and told him no if’s, and’s, or but’s, and he assured us no worries. It [the stadium] will be ready before graduation!!!!”
Additionally, Mr. Furlong in his email response to our question said, “Work is going to start up again next week.” He added that weather will play a role in the project.
In his response, Mr. Reis said that he wanted to “put the rumors to bed.” He explained, “The company will be on site starting Monday the 18th to start finishing the work. Game plan is to get the top of the stadium done first waterproof, paint and finish the top side and the backside.” He too indicated that the work is weather related, saying, “Let’s hope for good weather.”
Once again to reassure the Rockland community, Park Superintendent Ewell’s reply indicates that the stadium will be ready for the May 31 Class of 2019 Graduation “no if’s, and’s, or but’s.”