Students work towards solution
Every day, approximately 600 students walk the halls and attend their classes at La Grande High School. Most students, especially seniors, will tell you LHS does not have a bullying problem, but with further investigation, the comments show a very different theme of what really happens there on a daily basis.
J.J. Horst, a LHS senior, is very clear to state his opinion on LHS’ bullying problem with few words.
“Bullying isn’t an issue at our school,” Horst states.
While some agree with Horst, others do not. However, due to the sensitivity of the subject, most students are not willing to publicly share their experiences or their comments on bullying. Nevertheless, a few students were bold enough to come forward and express their thoughts and opinions.
“I think that, in La Grande, there is very little school spirit and respect for others,” said Jessica Coles, a LHS senior. “When I speak up, it’s the worst, because then (other students) attack me.”
Examples of what other students have said to Coles are too vulgar and obscene to be published.
One particular student shares about a more subtle form of bullying taking place, which has personally impacted her. Shelby De Long, a sophomore, says people “trash talk” others behind their back, and like a rumor, it spreads to other students until the person hears the trash talk about themselves.
“It happens to me all the time,” De Long says. “The only way to stop it is for people themselves to stop. I think there is a lot more bullying going on in schools than anyone really wants to say.”
During the second week of February, students received a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or PBIS, lesson on what bystanders can do in a bullying situation. Despite the lesson, students mocked it and made jokes, calling it “dumb,” “stupid” or, misusing the word, “gay.”
“I don’t see it as a very big problem,” Kaleb White, LHS senior and senior class officer, explains. “However, sometimes things can get out of hand even if it wasn’t meant to be hurtful.”
Despite all the negativity surrounding La Grande High, there are positive things that are happening. Right after the Jadin Bell incident, LHS Senior Class President Olivia Trotter brought to the attention of the seniors that they should take the lead in making their school a better place.
“With being a leader in this school, I felt the need to take charge,” said Trotter.
Trotter took initiative and posted in the seniors’ Facebook group to create an idea about how to raise awareness about bullying at school. The group came alive with other seniors commenting with ideas on how to help. The best part: nobody was put down for their thoughts, ideas or opinions in the three-hour online discussion, and students brought forth great ideas.
“No one should ever feel that way (like ending their life), and I wanted to make sure no one else ever did,” continued Trotter.
Recently, there has been an effort to establish a student-led committee to address bullying at LHS. This potential committee would meet and discuss ways to prevent future bullying conflicts amongst students within the school. Students tend to be more receptive to peers, rather than a person in an authoritative position.
While most agree that bullying cannot be 100 percent stopped, anything proactively done to reduce the number of occurrences is a step in the right direction. As with any publicized controversy, it is important to hear all sides of the story and put aside differences to create positive solutions. After hearing from students, it becomes clear that they do care and want to see positive change in their school.
Tesmond Hurd is editor-in-chief of Tiger Hi-Lites, the La Grande High School student newspaper.