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Crime and Punishment

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A group of teenagers who were arrested for breaking into and partying hardy in Robert Frost’s farmhouse in Middlebury, Vt., have been given a punishment that will make English teachers proud: Along with paying for the damage and doing community service, they are being required to take two classes in Frost’s poetry.

Explained prosecutor John Quinn: “I guess I was thinking that if these teens had a better understanding of who Robert Frost was and his contribution to our society, that they would be more respectful of other people’s property in the future and would also learn something from the experience.”

Middlebury College professor Jay Parini—also a poet, Frost biographer, and author of The Art of Teaching—volunteered to teach the classes. The first session featured a line-by-line analysis of—you guessed it—“The Road Not Taken.”

“It’s a lesson learned, that’s for sure,” said one of the offenders-turned-poetry students. “It did bring some insight. People do many things that they don’t realize the consequences of. It shined a light, at least for me.”

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It is truly inspiring to see a consequence for bad behavior that truly seeks to teach. These students are at the point where the road diverges--double kudos to Jay Parini for being willing to take on the teaching.

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