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February 14, 1980     The Sun Paper
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February 14, 1980
 

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2 The Sun, Thursday, February 14, 1980 I I J! !, i ool posn tve program There seems to be two completely different images of Willamina Junior-Senior High School. One image consists of broken windows, bomb threats, vanda- lism, unruly students who fight, tension in the classrooms. The second view includes the normal images associated with such a facility -- girls in cheerleader outfits laughing dur- ing a class break, posters on the walls announcing a dance, stu- dents taking notes in a classroom, teachers at the blackboards. Unfortunately, both views are correct. Last week's fight in the gym during a basketball game has gotten everyone's attention, it seems. The school board, in an emergency meeting last Wednes- day night, adopted stricter discipline rules; newspapers, including The Sun, are asking questions; teachers and students are talking more about the problems and what can be done. The first step, we think, that must be taken is to find out how the school got into this mess in the first place. We know last January's fire that destroyed the grade school forced the school board to enact a double-session system in which high school students use the classrooms in the mornings and junior high school students in the afternoon. Is that where the problems started? We don't think so. There were bomb threats before the double-sessions. And, more importantly, the high school facilities were rundown and overcrowded even before last January's fire. As several spec- tators said as they watched the grade school burn to the ground, tious bond proposal to voters last year to build a new high school in addition to a new elementary school. Voters rejected that proposal, however, and instead approved in a second election a bond measure to just build a new grade school. When the new grade school is completed next year double- sessions, at least, will be eliminated. But that's not enough. If voters won't approve spend- ing millions of dollars to build a new high school they at least should tour the existing high school facilities and recognize how inadequate they are today. The classrooms, gym, library and other rooms perhaps could be remodeled at a smaller cost than building a new facility. It's a difficult time to talk about spending money on schools, we realize, especially with the closure of the Champion mill in Willamina last week. Better facilities aren't the entire answer to the problems, either. We know of students in newly built schools who vandalize property and get into fights, too. In addition to the buildings, we think the school board and high school staff need to begin an image-building program. Other schools have reported success in turning a negative learning environment into a positive one, primarily by using motivational techniques that bolster self- confidence in students and teachers. Such programs follow the words of that old song: "Accent the positive and decen- tuate the negative..." Rewards are also needed in addition to stricter punishments for violating school rules. bad it wasn't the high Such a positive program will 3ol instead.' ..... take many months to turn things Clearly; not enough attention a#0und. The problems, -- vanda- has been given to the learning lism, bomb threats, overcrowd- environment of students attend-ing, etc. -- have been around for ing Willamina High School. The years and they won't go away school board submitted an ambi-overnight. --G.R. NEWS REPORT SLANTED I am writing as a concerned parent who was present at the ill-fated Willamina- Nestucca basketball game. l have been shocked at the folow-up newspaper coverage of the "riot." The damage is done as far as the student body of Willamina is concerned. They were obviously the ones who must shoulder 99 percent of the blame. After all, the trouble did take place at WiUamina, therefore it is only natural to assume it must have been all our fault. Nevertheless. 1 feel il is my responsibility to speak up and share my impressions of what took place that night. ! was present a year ago when the Nestucca fans pulled the same stunt they pulled this year. The only difference being we handled the disturbance with more tact and less hysteria. Last year, as this year, the students of Nestucca filed into the gym and sequestered themselves above and behind the adult section of Willamina rooters. Not 4 or 5 people -- 4 or 5 rows of people. They were extremely loud and unruly, drowning out even their own cheerleaders. They used a combination of loud chanting, spit balls and obscene words and gestures. A family with two small children was seated directly in front of the students. Both parents asked the students to quiet down several times. The students responded with louder chanting and more spit balls directed at parents and children. The father sought help from a Willamina teacher who in turn spoke to the students to no avail. James Brown. principal of Nestucca High School, was seated very near to the disturbance and it seemed to me he showed very. little concern. After the shoving and name-calling got out of hand he did go and speak to all involved. 1, personally, asked the Ncstucca cheerleaders to take their students to the assigned area for students and everything would calm down. i received obscene gestures and words from one of the cheerleaders, but the students did move and all quieted down. In fact, the students so bent on cheering so loudly almost ceased to cheer at all when seated on the other side. It simply wasn't fun anymore with no one to annoy and harass. in regard to the 1000 people present the night of the game. Anyone who has ever attended a function at Willamina's anliquaited gym knows we couldn't squeeze that many people in with a shoe horn! Perhaps 500 to 600 people, but. even that would be very uncomfortable. We are at fault for allowing those students to arouse us to the point of shoving and name-calling. For that we deserve some stricter conduct rules. 1 cannot help but question our need for armed guards at every school function. We have not had any other "riots" this or last year except for Nestucca. "That just about says it all." to quote Mr. Brown in Friday's edition of the News-Register. I agree, it really does say it all when every other school in this league and a few non-league can control themselves in our gym and we in theirs. Why should it be any different when we host Nestucca? I feel the whole thing has been blown out of proportion and I fully realize my writing will have very little effect on the outcome of this regretable incident. I do feel that when covering a news story it is important to interview both sides. I really feel this particular news feature (in the News Register) was slanted and poorly handled. --Glenda Hulett, Willamlna ,dwt s srn test a ument- 5 hacles "Trll t~ F aar Md George Rd~,~,tsou xm a,'eede,,, Ue,,k,b, bponer Virgil MshaHey, kd~erthil~ SsbmmM Published every Thursday by the Sheridan. Publishing Co., Sheridan, Oregon 97378. Second class postaBe paid at Sheridan. [ I I III III I I II I IIIIII IIIIIlll ,'fO 0 *4 To get the students' point of view on the incident at the basketball game at Willamina High School Feb. 5, George Robertson, editor and publisher of The Sun, spoke with the high school student council three days later. Here are their comments during the 4S-minute taped interview: GR: In talking with other people, the incident apparently was just the tip of an iceberg of other problems at the school. That's what we want you to talk about. Let's start with your evaluation of the Tuesday night thing, if you ,were there. Kelly Swift: The Nestucca crowd, fans, sat all ahmg our top bleachers and they started using vulgar statements and so on. It bothered the crowd. The parents said quiet down, and they k~ton doing it. GR: And that's what started it: Does everyone agree with that evaluation? There was general assent. GR: It was called in one of the papers "a riot" -- or a near riot. Is that everybody else's evaluation of that? Kelly is shaking his head no. Does anyone else want to comment? Was it a fight? Becky Bradley: 1 think it could have been a riot. If it had been pushed just a little bit. and if the)' had just kept pushing like they did. it could have broke out. But we had a few people, some cool heads that kept everybody else calmed down. Theresa Scott: In the Mac paper it sounded like all our fault, and I don't think that at all. I don't think we started it. GR: You took part in it but didn't start it? Becky: Yeah, that's what I think. GR: Do you think that any Willamina students or Willamina residents were responsible though for what they did? Becky: Yeah, some adults got involved. GR: What about students? Weren't there a few that got expelledor suspended? Becky: Yes. there were three. G~ Do you guys agree with that action'? Becky: Not with one of them, One of them wasn't fighting, he was just defending the cheerleaders. Because their guys were told to move by older people away from the adult side. Kelly: 1 think it was unnecessary for one student. He didn't even throw a punch, this person. And neither did the other two. And the other ones that threw the punch weren't even talked to. Theresa: Everyone was involved. everyone was at fault, everyone was doing something they weren't supposed to. So 1 don't see why three of them should be expelled. Nancy Wagler: Kind of singled out. GR: So more people should have been expelled, is that it? Mike Wilson: Yeah, instead of just them three. Because they weren't involved at all. yet they were expelled, and the people throwing punches, there wasn't' nothing done to them. Theresa: The thing that really bugs me is that after they told the Nestucca fans to move over to their section, well, about eight of the boys came over and moved right in front of us as we were cheering. Mr. Butte came over to try to calm everybody down because they were sitting in our section, and they sat there and said vulgar language at Mr. Butte. 1 "don't see why he couldn't talk to their principal about what they had done, and just because three of our kids had vulgar language they get kicked out of school. GR: What about the fact that the gym was really crowded'? Probably way over its fire safety level of capacity. Mike: i disagree with that. There were only about 250 people there or less than that. The seating is only about 300 people. Kelly: It's just that the paper exaggerated the number of people there. They said 2000, and something like 24 or so people involved in the fight, and there weren't that many involved. GR: How many people were involved in the fight? Mike: Four. GR: Four altogether? Mike: Well, everybody was involved. Theresa: I'd say there was about 30 people up in that corner. But just about four of them actually had contact. GR: Is it the school's policy to have visiting fans sit in a different area? Mike: Not for the adults. Jeff Reed: It's been changed. They that? Jeff: We can go to the school board. Becky: No one knew about the emergency meeting Wednesday. Theresa: Yeah, they had an emergency meeting on Wednesday, and we didn't know about it. Becky: So how could we go? GR: Are you notified of all meetings then? Several: No. GR: Have you requested to be? Becky: We talked about it ~ith Mr. Metzger. We were going to send two people to the meetings. GR: That gets into another question which is probably just as general and sakLthltt the adults will be sitting on one broad as the public image thing. What i ~ ~ s ~fid a|i~9.~, dents on the mr side a4 eomrg, u ic,al!.q 8 s hool %f tl~gy~ " ~'~ boafc] and "~,ith'the pnnclpal? ' OR: Maybe we can move on from what happened Tuesday night. What do you think Willamina High School's image is in the community maybe as a result of this incident or even before this incident? Also. what is your image of this high school or school district? Jeff: My dad works down in the plywood mill, and after the fight, wttatever, he said all the guys thought we've always been able to handle ourselves at the games, now there's questions about future basketball games and other sports activities. Theresa: When I started out as a freshman we came to school because we had a lot of fun. Now I'm a senior and it's not any fun to come to school. 1 think it's gone downhill drastrically. GR: In what way? Theresa: Well, the school for one thing. I don't think we had as many rules as we do now or as strict. Virginia Berg: 1 think the community thinks we're a bunch of rowdies, especially after Tuesday, but I think most of the people here are trying hard because with the double shifting, it's hard. GR: What is your image of the school? is it going downhill? 1 know there are more rules. Kelly: 1 feel the rules haven't changed one whole lot. but they made the penalties a lot stricter, so any way you look at it, the kids are getting screwed. 'Like expulsion. No more three-day expulsions, but seven days expulsion. Jeff: There's poor communication. Theresa: There's a commufiication gap. GR: What can be done to improve communication? Jeff: We could have students sit in on the meetings. Theresa: Because we don't hear what goes on at the meetings, we don't hear anything but rumors. Becky: And that's all they get. They get a lot of rumors, too. Theresa: They don't get our side of the story. Nancy: And then if they don't like it, they hold grudges on you. And then if you do something minor, you get blamed for something major. GR: What are some of the other problems you see as students? Jeff: Nestucca played Taft and had almost the same thing before they came to Willamina. And that's one problem is t hat most of the people in the community, the parents, don't know that. Collette Bainter: What I don't understand is why they cracked down so much on just this incident because we've had fights at football games and other basketball games. Nancy: For the past S0 years. Collette: And they didn't say anything then. And wham! They crack down all at once. Lisa Flansberg: The rules they just set I don't think they're very much different from the ones we already had. They're just trying to enforce them now because principal. Is that all there is doesn't seem like a whole lot. Becky: Well, it's a two-way us to respect them, they have to us, too. Virginia: 1 can see how it would to respect some of the students they do things like call in bomb and break windows, but 1 should think of us more as e( of little people. Collette: A lot of students minded that whenever the or anyone else makes a decision down a rule, well then they something to get revenge. GR: That raises another heard from various people -- that there,~see~s: to~ be .Jt respect for authority in the schools in general. Is that right? Cindy: I don't think they've right action making all of a rules real strict. Everybody's resent that: It's not going to GR: What should they do Cindy: I think they should enforcing those rules all they've just cracked down. Mike: One thing they could setting down rules this strict call a student council meetin us to see what we think. Jeff: 1 showed Dad that with al! the rules, and he said to have more strict rules high school. He said we get much we can cuss the teachers, at them, there's nothing they do. Collette: 1 think the reason lack of respect for authority with this double-shifting we at t high school level get treated way as the junior high Myra Robertson: What I think! would be consistent. All of it they've just thrown this don't know if it'll be consistent, agree with Kelly when he says do with who you are. I mean parents are brown-nosing the tration, then your kid's not flunked. Nancy: Another thing that's they set some rules down, we can't do them. Like they say leave the building and come, That's a flunk of nine weeks, this did happen. Our school has a lot of watch the game, and if they dot~ Theresa: You get out seven days. and problems, and we've tried to solve a lot of do it, why do we have to follo~' you're only allowed six days unexcused things like the vandalism of our school. Virginia: I agree with Nancy. absence or you have to go in front of the GR: Maybe we could talk about that.other day each class was attendance commJtteeto see whether you Lisa: We've tried to come up with individually and told about th0~ get F for the nine weeks or your grades, solutions and things just don't seem to and Mr. IVletzger was talkin[~ Becky: And seven days unexcused, you work. People have a negative attitude certain instance where this g, tty knoW. Even if you're excused for six that go to school here. cake. Right? And he goes, ' S0~ dayS, you're in trouble. GR: What about vandalism? turkey sat on a cake,' and GR: Are there any solutions to turn this Lisa: Most of it started last year, l everyone knows who it is but s o around? guess, can call the students names. ~(t Kelly: Administration. Change. TheGR: As a result of the double-shifting the staff could set a better exS~ school is run politically. There's too many and fire.9 GR: What about alcohOl] names. If you have the right name... Lisa: It was before then. too. understand one of the kids irtvI GR: Are you talking about the student GR: What are the reasonsfor apparently drunk. _J having the right name? ~andalism on this scale? Kelly: As far as I'm conC~ Mike: No. The administrators. The Kelly: it goes back to our administra- blown clear out of proportior~] people on the school board. Around here, ~~!i ~i;! ~~ii!a~yi high school you,re going to got like Kelly was saving, it goes by name. If there's going to be one, maYq,. you I~ave an important name, you get to people have had some alcohol: i do pretty much what you like. Mike: Well most people #~end GR: And the school board is the one ' ' "m drmkmg at a game or social a~er g that sets the policies, is that right, not the don't usually drink it. on t~[[i~i'" school administration9 Several: The school board and the ground they do it before they~s~'N~ Mike: The school board is the one that " staff. And then they get there and ~y . set those rules down GR: Something has been tried on for it..If they're going to d~l,,~ GR: And the principal, et cetera, just vandalism hasn't it? students, why not catch the s~, ". follow these rules? Mike: Yeah, we had a dance to help , .,,er.,.,.~t say they can t come to the ga."|! Mike: He just enforces them. pay for it, but the stud~:t council decided Give everybody a fair shake. ,~ GR: So the sentiment isn't against the not to use the money m the dance... GR: How about drug use the~ school principal, efcetera, it's against the GR: Are there some underlying Kelly: I don't think we have ~L_ school board. Is that accurate, or have I reasons we're not talking about?,l keep with drugs. ..~'q overstated? hearing this no respect, or they re not GR: What do you think the Zl~ $,~ Several: Yes. listening, and as a consequence the of problem students is here?,,ll~rld~ GR: Has the council gone before the students don't respect the administra- Ed Brockelh Our school isrl't"~ school board? I)o you have a right to do tion, the school, the teachers and the CorltJnued on Page :i