Tim Steller’s column: Brawl, arrest overshadow Tucson High’s qualities | Subscriber – Tucson, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona 2022-05-14 16:00:00 –

When students returned from the pandemic year, fighting was a hallmark of everyday life at Tucson High for the first few months of the school year.

Every few days, a few children became squares, the students strummed their cell phones to take a video, and the school monitor eventually intervened. I was concerned about the frequency, but it didn’t confuse the day for most of the large high school students on North Euclid Avenue and East Six Street.

Then, sometime in October or November, things settled down and the school settled down to routine without regular fights, the students told me. Its relatively calm condition lasted until May 3.

The riots that took place shocked many students, parents, and staff, with dozens of students and parents involved, as well as a discomfort. Violent videos spread all over the world On news sites such as the English-based Daily MailIn a bad light, I showed the school that many parents and students said it wasn’t worth it.

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Then, on Wednesday, High Commissioner Tucson, who resigned last week, was arrested on suspicion of sexual activity with a minor. As I was writing this column, Tucson police announced his arrest on Friday afternoon. Hits just keep coming.

While many outsiders consider the Tucson High Magnet School to be a rough school to avoid, students and parents tend to think of the Tucson High Magnet School as a place with some problems that do not compromise its quality. there is.

In that sense, Tucson High is very similar to Tucson itself. In fact, it has a rough reputation for being based on reality, but it misses the great features of a place that keeps us attached to it.

I speak from my experience as a parent of a Tucson High School student, but I’ve been checking for over a week and found that my experience is very similar to that of others. People appreciate many career and technology education programs such as STEM and performing arts magnet programs, automotive and graphic design, and the various options that come with such vast schools.

“These negative and violent things feel more explosive than the goodness of the school,” said Jicella Contreras, vice president of the student body. “Despite all the fights happening, I still feel safe here. It was like a lapse of judgment at school. Tucson High School is a really good school.”

Her classmate Zakaria Odr, who is also a class representative as an accountant, added, “It was 100% outlier.”

Of course, not everyone agrees. At the Tucson Unified School District Board of Directors last week, three students and one teacher issued a statement asking staff to do more to ensure the safety of the school.

The battle was unusually fierce

Two brothers were fighting with other students at Tucson High on Monday, May 2, according to police and school officials. After school, a social media dispute arose, and the next day, their brothers arrived at Tucson High. I called their father to pick them up.

When he left with his sons, school officials asked him to go out through the side doors so that hundreds of students wouldn’t go out into the courtyard where they were having lunch. The man went to the courtyard with his sons anyway and soon ended up in a fight with the same student his children had fought before.

Of course, the students held their cameras and the fights that followed were extraordinarily fierce. The student and guardian were beaten in the head while standing on the ground, and the father put his hand on the prone student’s throat. Guards sprayed peppergel, Tucson police flooded the campus, and some had long, threatening-looking, non-lethal weapons.

From Odol’s point of view, students in unrelated conflicts seemed to take advantage of that moment to start fighting and spread violence.

In the aftermath, many parents and students complained about the use of pepper spray, which, of course, did not just affect the fighters.

Maria Luna said her 9th grade son had lunch with another baseball player and was preparing to leave school for the match. The crowd spilled at them.

“Everything went well, that’s how he was sprayed and trampled,” she said.

His iPhone and AirPods broke, he rubbed his elbows and knees, and she took him to urgent care about a pepper spray on his eyes. He was prescribed eye drops.

“I love school and I love the staff,” she said. “I don’t blame the teacher. I blame my parents.”

Endanger others

The most directly involved parent, Willy Smith, has been blamed for news coverage. He was accused of felony — institutional interference or confusion. And in the complaint, police said he was deliberately engaged in the fight, he said before entering the courtyard: “If it’s down, it’s down here.”

However, while authorities condemned Smith’s decision, his sister and many others claimed that Smith was defending the bullied children. Popularized by social media posts, this version claimed that one of Smith’s sons had special needs, another son was defending him, and Smith was defending both. ..

Sister Rosarina Martinez told me on Friday that she couldn’t talk about the situation because of the proceedings, and she gave Smith a question. She didn’t get a reply from him. But across social media, parents claimed that Smith did the right thing by protecting his child, even if it became physical. They used the well-known phrase #FreeWillie for hashtags.

As a parent of Tucson High, I have to oppose. You can imagine a selfish logic for his actions, but he goes out into the courtyard and fights against instructions, engulfing the entire school in beef, endangering everyone outside, and blocking the school. And effectively finished the day’s learning, and detracts from the school’s reputation.

But that’s not all. School officials say the social media story explaining his involvement is just a retrospective justification.

“This has nothing to do with bullying,” Gabriel Trujillo said at a parent meeting. “I understand that this gentleman needs a specific story to excuse his bad behavior and his bad decisions, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not true. I’m in. “

School is more than its shortcomings

I don’t want to forgive Smith, the school, the district, or the students involved. Obviously something is wrong when a series of battles begins with the appearance of a man and his two children at lunch.

I want to know why other fighters roamed freely and confronted Smith and his sons. In the new case, how did school officials overlook the counselor’s living and sexual relationship with a 15-year-old child, officials said? Overall, I wonder if it’s really wise to have 3,000 students in one high school in a district where most high schools are out of school.

Looking at the Tucson High test scores, I was also shocked that only 22% of the students were rated proficient or very proficient in English art last year.

Yes, something is wrong, especially at school that day. But it also reflects some problems in society, the labor market, and the Arizona education system. Teachers who are increasingly despised with low wages have resigned. Schools find it difficult to hire and maintain staff. And all this happens when our society is angry from the pandemic, and some adults are modeling ridiculous behaviour.

Noah Sensiver, a member of the Tucson High School Site Council, rode a wave at Tucson High School and sent three children to school in nine years, including one now.

“There are so many kids who appear every day, go to class, get good grades, do homework, pursue the different educational opportunities offered by that type of school, and bring great educational experiences,” he said. Told. ..

Regarding the brawl, he said, “It’s a shame that people are looking and focusing instead of Tucson’s high art, great science, and amazing vo-tech stuff.”

Not everyone likes Tucson High. Tucson High is a vast school that has shown its worst quality in the last few weeks. that’s ok. But the day after the brawl, I went to a wonderful concert in the beautiful auditorium of the school, full of parents and even graduates. And despite its obvious flaws, I was still happy with the location.

Contact Tim Steller, an opinion columnist tsteller@tucson.com Or 520-807-7789. For Twitter: @senyorreporter

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