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Haysville, Kan. -- The Superintendent of Haysville Schools John Burke likens the ongoing jokes about Haysville to bullying.
Burke says, "Bullying is unwanted, hurting statements done over time. And bullies will say to you, 'Can't you take a joke?' We're just joking with you. That's what bullies say. And it's time to stop."
Burke is particularly targeting the annual Gridiron production. Burke sent emails to Gridiron producer Denise Neil asking the show to leave out jokes about Haysville.
Neil says, "I was honestly surprised to hear from them because 'Gridiron's' been going on for so long. And we get the impression that people look forward to being included. They look at it as a complement if they get skewered by us on stage."
Gridiron is put on by the Society of Professional Journalists. It's been an annual event in Wichita since 1967. Proceeds from the shows raises money for journalism scholarships.
Besides being Superintendent, Burke is President of Haysville Forward, Inc. an economic development group in Haysville.
Burke says, "We've had enough of Haysville put downs. And we've put together a concerted effort to let people know in the community, in Wichita and the whole metro area that we would like to see it stopped."
Neil says, "If you go to the show you'll hear jokes about.. there's tons of jokes about Wichita. Most of them are about Wichita. We joke about Mulvane, Clearwater. They'll throw in any city that has something going on. Haysville, you know, has been a long running joke but for the reasons that I said."
"We definitely don't have anything against Haysville. We love Haysville."
This year's Gridiron shows are April 10th, 11th and 12th at the Orpheum theatre in downtown Wichita at 1st and Broadway.