DAMAGED: School’s image takes a hit
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This school year hasn’t been the best for Tomball. Our name has popped up on the 5 and 10 o’clock news broadcasts of all the local news stations on more than one occasion. From a pageant girl saying racial slurs to a group of bullies harrassing a girl online to racial demonstrations and protests, Tomball’s good name has been badly tarnished of late.
With a campus full of big personalities comes strong opinions and the urge to share those opinions with absolutely everyone. This can lead to disagreements, physical fights, and bullying. Bullying has become all too popular in this school especially in the last year. Well, at least that’s what they make it seem like on tv.
“I don’t think our school has a bullying problem,” Connor Hunt (11) said. “It’s a handful of kids that act out and get all the attention.”
The majority of students and staff at Tomball High School don’t actually feel like bullying is as big a threat at the school as it’s made out to be, but that’s because bullying has latched onto technology. Much like the teenagers nowadays, bullying is much more active online.
In recent years, it has become more and more popular for people to attack others online. Improvements made in technology have actually made bullying easier for people to do.
One of the events at Tomball that caught the attention of the media started with a picture that was posted to Twitter. The picture featured multiple students, one student posing in the front of the picture and showing her support for the Black Lives Matter movement and some standing in the background posing for a different picture showing their support for Donald Trump. The picture caused quite a stir. Many kids felt that they were being judged and picked on for who and what they supported. The difference of opinion spread throughout the school and many felt that racial tensions were high.
The solution was a new group called PRIDE.
People Recognizing Individuals’ Differences Equally, or PRIDE, is a group that was created in order to decrease the racial tension brought on by the election.
“PRIDE was established to unite the school through discussion of the school’s problems, and coming up with a solution,” said Johnnie Jones (12), who is one of the leaders of the group. The group has been fairly silent this year as they are still trying to get the group on its feet and stable.
“Next year PRIDE will be more school-wide, and will bring an end to all the misconceptions about all races, genders, and social groups in America,” Jones said.
They recognize that even in this group, where they all have the same goal, there will still be opposing opinions. The plan is to “educate” the members to resolve and overcome potential conflicts before they even begin. Communication is key.
National attention was focused on the school last summer when new graduate Karli Hay was crowned Miss Teen USA, only to have four-year-old Tweets by her using racial slurs surface within hours of the pageant.
Another event that caught the media’s eye was a lawsuit filed by the family of a student who says she was being harassed not only in the hallway but online as well. Pictures and videos of her were being posted and were shared online about 60,000 times.
Now, not only do people think that Tomball has a bullying problem, but the administration is being called into question for their response to the situation.
The district is prepared to handle any bullying situation. Any student that has been bullied or witnessed bullying of another student is to report the event immediately to a teacher, the principal, a school counselor, or any other district employee.
For students that have been bullied and have suffered physically or emotionally there is always help ready for anyone who needs it.
“The THS staff and administration are always here to support students in any way needed,” said one the school counselors, Nancy Lynch.
Tomball is not a place where bullying is tolerated, but people won’t take that seriously until the students do as well.