The School That Wasn’t There

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I was honored to deliver a commencement address to a Nevada high school this month. But the school didn’t exist. It was a hoax perpetrated by gun-control activists.

On May 14, I received a call from a man who identified himself as Jordan Simon, board chairman of James Madison Academy, a Las Vegas-based online high school with 2,000 graduating students. Mr. Simon told me students and faculty had picked me to be their commencement speaker.

I looked up the school and found a professional website (JamesMadisonAcademy.net no longer exists) featuring photos of smiling students and detailed descriptions of the school and teachers.

Mr. Simon offered to cover my travel expenses and pay a small honorarium. Since there were no direct flights from Missoula, Mont., where I live, and Las Vegas, he even offered to charter a plane to fly me down. That seemed excessive, so I drove. I wanted to save the school money and visit friends in Idaho on the way.

I agreed to give the talk, and made plans to drive the 950 miles for the June 5 event. I planned on giving a talk based on the advice I give my own children about hard work and how to get started in a career. But a few days before the event, Mr. Simon told me that I had to discuss background checks and James Madison’s role in drafting the Second Amendment. I objected, but he said the students were conservatives and the Second Amendment had been part of the core curriculum. So I went along.

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