It Wasn’t About Hall Passes

Protest2014-11-20_Konstanz

VIEWPOINT

Thursday’s protest march was an embarrassment, but perhaps now the school can have the right conversations

By Lauren Sorensen, Current Staff

What happened at school on Thursday morning was simply wrong. A step towards a positive environment with the ability to have dialogue about student issues was twisted into a public spectacle of immaturity, and that’s too bad.

The actions taken by a percentage of the student body on Thursday were disgusting. Watching the news and seeing one’s school being disparaged as “the students who rioted over lavatory passes” should make any student cringe. Savagely running through the halls and displaying such a blatant disregard for the privilege of public education is simply sad. Students calling for mature treatment yet spiraling into rage only proved the district’s logic in restricting freedoms. Immaturity will never be met with mature privileges.

Yes, being a teenager has always come with a heightened need to defy authority in the hopes of becoming an adult and making decisions for oneself. Questioning rules is a natural part of growing up. But a complete disregard for authority cannot be condoned. There are children on the other side of the world that would gladly trek miles to have the opportunity to attend a school like East or West, but on Thursday, West Bend students saw an opportunity to skip class and they devoured it.

That the behavior on display was wrong and deserves punishment is a given. And yet, as social media explodes with rumors and judgments, perhaps a larger question needs to be considered.

Maybe it does not matter what people were chanting or whether or not “sticking it to the man” was effective. The larger question students, educators, administrators, and parents need to consider is why such a simple sheet of paper can spark such an explosive response.

Protest2014-11-20_Sorensen (9)

There was an increased police presence at WBHS throughout the day on Thursday.

Perhaps these bathroom lanyards were simply the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The conflict of conjoining the high schools was only resolved last month. This week seniors were notified that they would no longer be participating in the drunk driving awareness program Every 15 Minutes (participation has since been returned to seniors). A school tradition of the senior class having a mural to leave behind in the school was also temporarily taken away before being returned. The AP class exam policy also has faced changes this year with an end-of-year exam being required in addition to the AP test. Discussions about “data” are constantly interfering with richer learning experiences.

Amidst all these changes, many students feel like they are being suffocated with policy changes, mixed messages, and widespread confusion. Changes in school policy often are misunderstood by students as a result of administration not openly keeping students informed. Intended or not, decisions seem hidden, and the logic is not easily understood. Policy decisions seem to leave out the most important factor: the actual impact on students.

To students, trust seems misplaced with school board members and the powers-that-be. Administration has become a haze hanging over the school that has become policy-happy. To many students, a principal is simply a concept, a threat, and a stack of blurry rules, not a person leading them to a destination of learning.

Even if the goal is to better the learning environment, as more and more rules are set in place, students are beginning to feel like animals kept in cages. And we don’t know why there is a sudden need to treat us like numbers rather than partners.

Thursday’s events may not be an issue of hall passes; perhaps it is a call for action. Clearly students feel as though their voices are not being heard. When a child craves attention, and doesn’t know how else to be noticed, he or she lashes out. Part of the student body threw a temper tantrum Thursday. It wasn’t constructive, but it might be illustrative.

Protest2014-11-20_Sorensen (10)

Bill Greymont, head principal, consults with a police officer on Thursday.

Students have illustrated a need within the district. For many, school is not a positive environment in which the joys of adolescence are felt and the responsibilities of adulthood are learned. It is simply a shame that students are going so far as to say that school is becoming a prison. For many, the joy of learning has disappeared or possibly never existed in the first place. In theory, school should be a safe place in which students feel stimulated, nurtured, and cared for. A disconnect between students and administration leaves many students feeling neglected, forgotten, and leads to an attitude that “they (administration) don’t care about us anyway.”

The new hall pass is a symbol for something much bigger. On Thursday, it was used as a scapegoat for every disgruntlement students have ever felt, whether it be AP exam exemptions or a simple disrespect for authority. Some disgruntlements may be more relevant or more intelligently developed, but when it comes to the business of student education, the district as a whole might need to reflect on customer satisfaction.

As for the student body and the problems they both impose and face, some deeper thought needs to be given. Students have rights. Students have a right to feel safe at school. Students have a right to receive a quality education that will prepare them for life’s trials and tribulations, and students have a right to feel as though their voice matters and their thoughts are being taken into consideration.

Of course, being a student also carries responsibility. As community members, future adults, and the future of a nation, we as students have to give serious consideration about what it means to be a productive citizen. Soon the world will be in the hands of students, and it will be a frightening place if new hallway regulations are enough to inspire a mob.

The Current welcomes submissions from all students, faculty, administration, and community members, but reserves the right to edit for length or content.  Any column, editorial, or letter to the editor expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the entire staff.

(Top image courtesy of Danielle Konstanz, West English teacher.  Other photos by Lauren Sorensen, Current Staff.)

74 Comments

Filed under Community, School News and Features, Viewpoint

74 responses to “It Wasn’t About Hall Passes

  1. Mr. Zappia

    This is the best piece of writing I have ever had the pleasure of reading from any student. I am reading this to all my classes tomorrow. I am so impressed the way you captured the feelings, emotions, and perspective of the situation. Absolutely superb!

    • Darcy Gerhardt

      I would like to second that, very well said coming from anyone, especially a student in the midst of the situation. And i would like to thank you, Mr.Zappia, for being so awesome at what you do. This world needs more teachers like you that actually treat students like the future decision makers that they are and with the respect they deserve, no more, no less. I know I’ve got a good head on my shoulders but I wouldnt have the same thought processes I have today if you hadn’t been there to guide them.

    • As a former student of West Bend West, I have to second you Darcy. Mr. Zappia you are a teacher I’ve spoken about till this day, and brought all the way to CO with me. The world truly does need more teachers and people like you!

      As for this article, great job capturing the actions and emotions of the situation in it’s entirety. Your voice is heard, and will continue to be heard, especially through this kind of maturity, the recognition deserved will continue. Now to get all the students on this kind of “thinking level”… Good luck West Bend West & East!

    • jennifer allman

      Former west bend west student. Mr. Zappia, Mr penterman I will always remember the things u taught me in your classes. Thank you for always making us see other points of view.

      Jennifer Allman

    • I would like to 3rd the motion that Mr. Zappia has a gift of facilitating as well as provoking thought and is awesome.

  2. Jason Penterman

    Thank You.

  3. Lisa Zochert

    Well said Lauren! This is a thoughtful, mature and accurate article- nice job!

  4. Very well written and a great representation of the majority of the students at our wonderful high schools. Thank you.

  5. Nancie Daley

    very well written

  6. vulgarmastermind

    This reminds me of how people acted at the capital when changes were made in Wisconsin. I think this is societal now. If you don’t like what happens to you, flip out, act chaotic. Change and truth aren’t always going to walk in stride for everyone. You want a great example of how it can ruin a community. Watch Ferguson over the next couple of weeks. We have taken many steps back as a nation, the non-adults in our community just showed it can hit in our town. Thankfully it wasn’t the whole population of students. I applaud the ones who did not act out, you are the future leaders and role models.

  7. Mrs. Bruce

    Very well put! Excellent article that should be shown to the masses on social media.

  8. Zachary W Ford

    I find it incredible that the staff of the Current was able to thoughtfully and carefully examine the incident that occurred yesterday, and then present this article that really looks at the broader picture. I am truly grateful to teach in such a school as this, and this article really exemplifies that!

  9. Mary Martin

    I agree! Well written, now that is education at it’s best!!

  10. Sheri

    Sadly a lot of parents feels this way too. The school board and many school administrators don’t listen to the students and/or the parents of the students. It isn’t prison but it can be an unsafe environment if the students take it to this level. As adults, we can’t act this way and it is important to know that behaving in this matter isn’t the way to be heard, find the right avenue and changes can happen. Great article!

    • Kelly Tesch

      I agree my daughter went to school there for four years and I hated the school from the beginning! When I got punished in school and teachers were not afraid of me I went home to tell my parents I was punished and I got punished by my parents for getting punished in school. Parents care what your kids do and say! Shorten their leash give them boundaries! They are YOUR responsibilities!

  11. Theresa Narveson

    Very proud of you Lauren. That was an extremely well written, well thought out article!

  12. Ms. Nicole Di Bernardo

    Thank you for a thoughtful and well-written article.

  13. tbrahm

    Thank you. Your parents should be proud of a job well-done.

  14. Rebekah Krieger

    If any other parents are concerned by the way the officials did not acknowledge the peaceful students who came to the meeting with real concerns feel free to message me. We are forming a group of parents to help communicate the concerns more clearly.

    • Carol

      Hi Rebekah –

      In what way are you taking concerns in? I just want to know if this is the correct person to reply to.
      My daughter went to the meeting – just curious. She really didn’t have an opinion about the new policy other than, if she had to go to the bathroom she would have to wait (time to be determined by student), for the student to get back to the classroom.
      She is on the school’s side with how this was handled. In no way can you communicate intelligently your point with this nonsense. She thought it was ridiculous. She never participated in this protest.
      However, she was seen on video ‘walking’ the halls and was suspended for 3 days. She didn’t hear the announcement that told her she had 20 minutes to get back to her class. She had two people (one being a teacher) fall on top of her in the cafeteria, it was loud and crazy. Depending on where you were in the cafeteria – it IS possible that students could not have heard it.
      Also, my daughter called me at this time and I told her to leave. She made it to the field house and police were there so she turned back, she called me to say her boyfriend would give her a ride home and she tried another exit. Then I received a text saying that she could not leave during lock down and I would have to call her in for her to leave – which I did. She then came home.
      There is more, but that is the basics of it.
      Regarding the policy? I feel that a bunch of students ruined it for the majority of the good students at the high school. Not only, from what I understand, they have to wait for the student who left class (again, time to be determined by student), but there are legal and monetary consequences for this as well. Not fair. Why not target the students who made this policy to begin with?

  15. Mrs. Kristen Becker

    Wonderful article, Lauren. This was both well-written and extremely insightful. I’m proud to have been your teacher. 🙂

  16. Jason Day

    I was just wondering if there are any other parents in the district that are concerned with the events that happened yesterday at the high school and the way things were handled. I am a parent of a student who does attend the school and I am now not only curious as to why students believe they are not being heard? I had taken my son to school this morning to speak with an administrator about the events that happened yesterday and was very displeased with the response I was given to the issues the students have. I voiced my concerns about the new “bathroom passes” that my son had made aware to me and the response was “if the students had a better resolution to the problem it would be considered”. If you are unaware of the new bathroom pass policy it is that students are now required to carry a half sheet of laminated paper to the bathroom. There is only one pass per teacher. Doesn’t seem too concerning. My son had told me that kids were saying they were going to put it in the toilet, pee on it, or anything else an immature kid could think of. Now to me this does seem concerning! I had asked the administrator why this new hallway pass was in place. He said that it makes things easier for a teacher or administrator to know if a student is suppose to be in the hallways. Now correct me if I’m wrong but why couldn’t a teacher or administrator ask the kid if he/she has a pass? Why is this such a hard thing to do? The only problem this has solved is that a teacher or administrator does not have to confront a student about being in the halls. Has our school system become that bad that teachers or administrators are only looking to make their jobs easier by not confronting students? I thought this was part of their job? I had also asked if the parents would be involved with any of these issues the students had and was told “no, we do not feel this is an issue for the parents”. I feel that it is an issue with me and I’m a parent of a student! Now I believe I know how the students feel by not being heard. The school seems to think that the way they decide to do things is the way it should be and I do not agree with that! So again I ask if there are any other parents that are concerned about the way things are handled in the high school and if so please contact me. Thank you!

    • Amanda Cooksey

      Jason, when I was in school (graduated on 2006) we were asked to show our hall pass. Students also knew if you saw a hall monitor just to hold up your hall pass, the hall monitor may have taken a closer look but it was okay. With the rest of what is going on with students not being heard, being properly informed of policy changes and having privileges, that they have been promised once they reached their senior year, taken away. I understand their feelings. When I was in school my class had the same things happening. We always joked that we were the guinea pig class. We would have things changed on us with no real explanation, unless you had a teacher who saw you as young adults that deserved a explanation, those students would try to pass on the information they were given. We were always told to act like adults while being treated as Children who still needed to hold mom and dad’s hand while in public. So this peaceful sit in doesn’t surprise me. I’m saddened and angered by the ones who turned it into a immature show of disrespect. By them doing so whatever the rest of the student body was trying to do was tarnished and dismissed. I hope things will change for the majority of the students who tried to be respectful, while also trying to be heard and seen as young adults who have a right to know information about why things are being changed.

      • As a parent of two students at West Bend West, I think back to my own high school years. We didn’t have a half sheet of paper to carry while in the hall during class time. We had a 1″X1″X6″ wooden stick, painted white with the teacher’s name written on each side in large black permanent marker. If a pass were given to a student, they would also have a quarter-sheet of paper that showed the date/time and student’s name to indicate what time the student needed to return to class. If a student was stopped in the hall, they had to give their first/last name and show their pass. Both the teacher’s name and the student’s name were written down. Later, if the teacher couldn’t vouch for the student having been given a pass, or the written time for the pass had expired, the student would be called into the principals office. While we (students) didn’t particularly like the policy, we followed it out of respect. Structure and policies must be in place to maintain order and accountability in our education system.
        As for the school administration’s actions… I am disappointed in the lack of communication that takes place between our education leaders and students/young adults. While I don’t believe that every decision made at the leadership level needs to be explained to the student body, decisions that directly impact them (i.e. the discontinuation of senior murals and the AP plus in-class final exams) should be delivered with a logical explanation of why the decisions have been made. Additionally, they should share how they will serve to improve the schools future and/or student’s academic success. This really just comes down to effective communications skills.
        I am not in favor or approval of the actions which took place yesterday (Thursday, November 20th) or the events that took place leading up to the riot-like actions of a small segment of our young adults. The students had an ideal opportunity to raise true concerns for the lack of communication shared when changed policies are handed down. However, rather than addressing the situation appropriately and targeted at policies that truly leave a lasting impact on their future ability to develop into productive and logical minded adults, these few students diverted attention away from the larger issue in an unproductive manner. This is perhaps a great lesson in why it’s important to pick our battles wisely and respond with logic over emotion.
        I believe we have an excellent opportunity to grow as a community. In the words of Henry Ford, ““Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely”.
        We, as area citizens (parents, teachers, school administrators, neighbors, etc), all have a responsibility to instill moral values, logical thinking skills, and coping behaviors in our youth. This does not happen through unilateral decision making that is handed down as a monarchy. We cannot ask our high school youth to behave like adults while we treat them like kindergartners.
        When decisions are made by our school administration, students need to respect the leaders we’ve entrusted to their educational and social-acclimation education. Further, those making key decisions on behalf of the student body must consider if the changed policies are are logical and are in the best interests of the students and then encourage open dialog to occur when one or more students or parents challenges the decision.
        As American’s we are all blessed to have “Freedom of Speech”, which allows us to voice our differences of opinion. It is a great right that we should be demonstrating with our youth. However, we must also be defining how to use that right appropriately and effectively. It is obvious, from the events of yesterday, that we have youth among us who have yet to learn this critical life lesson. Further, we have a channel of communication, handed down from our education leaders, that is broken… at the very least in the minds of the students we pay them to lead.
        Finally, my children were not involved in the sit-in activity. I have however heard them share concerns for the lack of communication shared by teachers and administration when it comes to policy change or major events that have involved one or more of their peers. I would hope that the arrested youth and their like-minded peers consider how they could have better represented their own (and fellow student body) interests in a more effective manner. Community service seems a good way for them to give back to our community, following the disruption they have created. As for our education leaders, my hope is that they also consider how their choice regarding transparent communications could be improved and serve as a better example to our students of today and leaders of tomorrow.

    • Katie

      Jason,
      I am a student at a different school in the area. We have always had to carry a hall pass, each teacher has only one. Yes, teachers could just ask where students are supposed to be, but what keeps the student from lying? Most students wouldn’t admit to skipping out on a class. The pass shows evidence that the student is indeed supposed to be in the halls.

    • Ms. Brown

      Jason, I am also concerned. Apparently, as the students voiced their opinion, someone just yelled out “next” or something similar. If they really weren’t interested in talking they shouldn’t have agreed to do so, and parents should have been informed.

      Any news on there $125 tickets that are being handed out if a student is in the hall, regardless of the reason. I feel this is going over board, requiring students and parents to take off just to fight them.

      • Carol

        Ms. Brown –

        I agree. Not only are there monetary consequences to not having a hall pass, but there are also legal ones. I heard that the police can get involved if you have more than one.
        So, instead of having the students take personal responsibility for making this policy even happen, the school is making the majority of the students – the good students – pay for it. Doesn’t seem fair.
        And since there is only one per class, obviously only one student can be out (time to be determined by the student). My daughter asked me if she really had to go to the bathroom should she just go? I told her yes. But, again, we have to face the consequences for that. Sad.

    • Amy

      Every single Teacher, administrator, aide, and parent volunteer, in the entire school district are required to wear identification around their neck. It is for the purpose of keeping the children safe. I personally have to wear one, or a visible name tag, when I volunteer at my kid’s West Bend schools. Unauthorized people are more easily identified and addressed. I do not understand why the kid’s should not be expected to do the same. Out of all the school shootings, most were done by students. Not that requiring a pass around the neck would be able to stop this 100%, but it could help identify students in the wrong place at the wrong time. It could alert staff sooner to a problem. It is not a restriction of freedom, but a system for security.

  17. Mrs. Lisa Alexander

    Very well written article. Lauren, you were able to voice so effectively what so many are discussing today. Well done.

  18. Mrs. Barrett

    Excellent! This is a very well written article. You did such a nice job of capturing the events, emotions, and reactions of the events that took place yesterday.

  19. Mr. Daniels

    Beautiful. Your word choice is impeccable and captures the issues at hand. This is the best student article I have had the pleasure of reading. Thanks for capturing the thoughts of the student body and sharing them in a powerful and productive manner.

  20. Dawn Goralski

    WOW! Excellent article…very well written!

  21. SClark

    I truly appreciated your article Lauren. As educators we hope that students are able to navigate through complex situations and find a deeper understanding of what the underlying problems are…you did a wonderful job seeing the many different angles to this issue – a few I had not thought of myself, and really loved your insight. I liked it so much I had to read it several times to make sure I was quoting you correctly when I was discussing it with others. Thanks for the great read!

  22. Jeff Schreiber

    Absolutely fantastic piece of writing! You have evaluated the issue with honesty and integrity. As as former English teacher, I give you an “A” for this brilliant work. Too bad you won’t find this result on any stupid classroom “data” bulletin board. This writing is way too good to be evaluated by the letter/number holy grail WBSD lives by.

  23. Excellent article, Lauren! This entire incident will only be understood looking backwards. And if studied correctly, has the power to teach us much! It’s a shame that students like yourself rarely make the headlines!

  24. Mrs. Stahle

    Very well written article. Thank you for writing it.

  25. Adam Inkmann

    Wow. Nice work. My wife mentioned you and your article this morning, saying I had to read it. I agree. Must read!!! Glad to hear from the kids who get it. Keeping making West Bend proud.

  26. Danielle Konstanz

    Very well written, Lauren! Thank you for your hard work, both as a student and writer. You make West Bend proud!

  27. Jackie Schmoldt

    Impressive and thoughtful analysis of yesterday’s events!

  28. Jill Kopecky

    Beautifully written Lauren! Just so everyone knows, Lauren mentions that the students are frustrated because they are not being heard and that administration is sending mixed messages and taking things away from them. HELLO!! This is what the West Bend teachers have been fighting for years now, and it is finally affecting the students. Notice that 6th grade camp, field trips, the Great America trip for 8th graders, family living and tech ed have all been taken away from the middle schools. Your teachers have been protesting all the testing and “data collection” that they are forced to do. Teachers in West Bend have learned to shut up and not say too much because then they get put on the “Naughty List” and their jobs are in jeopardy. Parents and community members – you need to wake up and start looking at the administration in your district. There needs to be a positive change because the reputation of West Bend isn’t a good one right now.

    • Ethan

      Agreed.
      We need the best for our future generations and our own.
      Its time for the administration to step down.
      The people that should run the schools are the ones that actually care not just about their own but care and want the best for others children as well.
      West Bends current goal is to give students the basics. Which is pretty pathetic.

    • Ms. Brown

      I absolutely agree with this Jill.  These are important rights of passage our older children were fortunate to take part in, and many of the parents looked forward to their younger children experiencing them, also.  
       
      Parents needed to be involved in these changes that were frustrating to the students.

  29. Ben Gamerdinger

    This was the most accurate depiction I have read about the issues that have plagued the school district over the last months and even years. Thank you for your formal and respectable expression of ideas.

  30. Mark Hoefert

    Good article – as a parent I also share those concerns about the way things are communicated (or I should say, not communicated). While the administration may not be held accountable for not anticipating this response, I do hold them accountable for not informing the parents that this was coming up. Obviously I don’t have all of the facts, but it is my understanding that based on Facebook postings on Weds. the response was to schedule a listening session 1st hour on Thursday in the East Cafeteria. If the response was 300-350 students that should have been a concern right there – to me that sounds like more than the capacity of that room. If you facilitate a mob presence, you will get mob behavior. My freshman daughter did not attend. Basically because she knows I monitor Skyward constantly – I would not have tolerated seeing an absence from Algebra class for something like this and she knows that. I know lots of parents in the WBSD – most of them would have appreciated something communicated the evening before. That would have afforded the parents the opportunity to discuss the proposed changes, perhaps provide some adult perspective on the position of the administration, and suggestion that attending class was more of a priority in that family. I suspect that if that had been done, there would have been a lot less than 300-350 students showing up.

    I am also interested in discussing communication issues with other parents.

    • Carol

      Good point Mark! That should have been a signal to communicate with their students/our children to ask our permission if we wanted them to attend. We would have sat down with our daughter and asked her the reasons why she wanted to attend, what she planned on contributing, etc.
      I think my answer would have been no – leave it alone.
      You may remember me, I volunteered with you for several years at Green Tree Elementary.
      Sadly, I heard about this protest while it was happening. My daughter called me on her cell and I only heard her panicked voice, banging noises, and vulgar language in the background – and then we got cut off. I was terrified! Since I was not there, I sent her a text and asked her to leave and I would pick her up. Halfway to the school, she texts me back and says her friend will take her home because he is leaving too. I told her to let me know when she is officially away from the school so I can stop worrying. About 20 minutes go by without any communication from my daughter. She then texts me that she just found out they are in a lock down and can’t leave, and that I need to call the school if I want her to leave – which I did.
      My daughter was suspended for 3 days the day after the protest. When I came to get her the Principal told me they found her on school surveillance camera walking the halls.
      My daughter, who didn’t start this, who clearly didn’t do anything against the law , or anything stupid, gets a 3-days suspension. She didn’t start this, she didn’t participate in it by plugging sinks and flipping tables, and chanting vulgar things, but she participated? And, I kept getting the same answer back when I questioned the Principal and Police. Because there was an announcement made to return to her classroom in 20 minutes.
      She had to be in the hallways to get to her classroom, no one can substantiate whether or not she was in her classroom within the 20 minutes, no one listened to or questioned my daughter when she told them that two administrators told her to go the opposite direction when she did try to return to her class room, and lastly, guess who was on the news that night? My daughter.
      So what message are they trying to get to my daughter by suspending her for 3 days? How she should react next time when a situation gets out of control? Not to listen to her mother? Not to go with her gut instinct?
      I don’t understand, but I will.

  31. Mrs. Fischer

    Bravo Lauren! This is an excellent piece of journalism. Thank you for looking at the big picture. Every WBHS student should read this! Kudos to the current staff and Mr. Beltman for getting these articles out in such a timely matter.

  32. Ethan

    The need for students to be heard was a problem back in 2009 as well.
    Most of the students grew up in this area, some who’s parents went to East or West. Combining the two schools would end in devastating consequences. The only people that want it to be one school are those that aren’t from here.
    On the subject of this riot how bout
    These new rules the administration wants to enforce be discussed to students and parents seeing how the students not only represent the two schools but the community as well.
    Thursday was a reaction of stress though Im sure some just joined for the […] of it.
    A group of people shouldnt decide whats best for the two schools. My advice; Treat your students like their your own.

  33. EXCELLENT ARTICLE! Perhaps your voice of reason will lead to an overall review of effective communication skills within our school system. I am hopeful of an improved outcome for all… and I’m confident that you (Lauren) have a bright future ahead. Continue demonstrating your commitment to community and writing excellence!

  34. Bob Bietsch

    well said!

  35. Sally Heuer

    VERY well written article! As I processed yesterday’s events with my first hour students, these very concerns came to light. My students engaged not in attacks, but with very mature thought provoking comments. They are frustrated to say the least! The perception portrayed in the media is that it is a bunch of high school students just whining about hall passes. If that is all people got out of yesterday’s situation, then you are very shallow. That issue is simply the icing on the cake or the straw that broke the camel’s back for many of our young people. All they really wanted was for their voices to be heard and their feelings validated by the decision makers. I can relate to that! Unfortunately, even though they are “our customers,” they are not feeling treated as such. A significant difference is made when people work together instead of using a divide and conquer attitude.

    As a teacher in this district for the past twenty-five years, I have sat in the trenches with the youth who have come through our system. They have had the opportunity to get a great education. They have been involved, not only in sports, but in so many ways that promote good citizenship and a positive school. It is really a small percentage that don’t seem to want to take advantage of the education that is offered to them.

    I plead with you, don’t let the events of yesterday define the youth at our high school, or simply, our high school in general! The majority of our students are amazing! I am surrounded by tremendous educators who are extremely passionate about keeping your children safe and providing them with the most high quality education. I feel privileged every day to have the opportunity to make a difference in my students’ lives! Let’s listen to them and validate what they are feeling!

    • Ms. Brown

      Thank you, I agree. I am hoping someone talks about the $125 tickets that will be handed out? Any ideas about this? I think it is going overboard, forcing parents and children to take off to fight them in court. I am certain that is not the answer.

  36. Tamara Ravn

    You have written a very well thought out piece. I commend you ability to view both sides of the conflict and offer solutions for future resolution. May you continue to lead fellow students to adulthood

    Tamara Ravn PharmD
    Pharmacist, Manager and parent

  37. Nancy

    Nice job Lauren. Great reporting both sides and keeping with the issue at hand.

  38. Anonymous

    I think that the school shouldn’t be as lenient as it. We give too many second chances, which are wildly and inappropriately taken advantage of. Expulsion needs to be a consequence to deter the punk brats who don’t follow the rules that the administration initiates, which are in reality made for the students safety. Contrary to popular student belief, immature, irrational students are the problem; administration and new policy is not. If students simply followed the rules, and expelled the kids who don’t follow the rules, none of this would ever have happened.

  39. Craig

    Former student- class of 1990.
    My sincerest compliments to the author of this article. It is structured and edited better than most of what passes for journalism today. I was instantly immersed in the story.

    Well done.

  40. Ktraska

    Well said, but will it be heard by the right ears and minds?

  41. Jodie

    Great article, however, I don’t care what it is all about, it is never ok to do what these students did. Ferguson isn’t ok and the Milwaukee protests aren’t ok. The West Bend community did the right thing while debating the two school issue, we talked, because it was up for discussion. Everybody needs to learn that just because you don’t agree with something, doesn’t give you the right to disrupt the lives of others.

    • Carolyn

      Are you serious Jodie? Equating high school student protests about policy changes to the deaths of two individuals. Protests are what helped to fuel the civil rights movement. Are you against those protests too? It’s unlawful behavior not peaceful protests that are wrong. Period.

      • Alias

        I think, Carolyn, what Jodie is trying to communicate is there is a very clear line between a peaceful protest and mob behavior – and while the underlying causes may be justified – this was clearly mob behavior and can not be tolerated.

      • Carol

        To add to Carolyn’s reply –

        Yes, you NEED to disrupt in order to change something. NOT, in the way Ferguson did it, and NOT the way some of the students at the high school did it.
        The students had a chance to maybe change something. Nothing, other than not having a chance at all for that to change in their lifetime, AND there may be even more policies to follow because of this.
        The way you change things is by getting your point across intelligently and firmly. You first have to be passionate about what it is you’re protesting about.

  42. West Bend Family

    Excellent job, Lauren!

  43. Kenny Asselin

    Very well written and well thought out article. A really great insight to the underlying issues.

  44. Eric

    To the Lauren: I sincerely hope you go into journalism–they need more people like you desperately.

    As for the topics at-hand, as an alum of West Bend East, I am saddened and embarrassed. While I don’t condone the actions of several students (and hope the guilty parties are punished appropriately), my feelings are directed more at what the administration and school board has let the West Bend school system turn into.

    From what I have seen and read, this was only a matter of time, and by the looks of it, things could have been much worse. What appalls me is they wonder why people (students and staff alike) are leaving the district for “greener pastures.” The lights are on, but no one’s home. Look at what your policies and “cost cutting” measures have done to the educational experience. You’re actually costing the students so much more by eliminating experiences like 6th grade camp and tech ed/family living from the middle schools. Experiences like camp teach things that no textbook can. Cutting class murals?!?? It’s bad enough the high schools look like a prison from the outside…now you want to make the inside look like one too? And you wonder why social media pages pop up like the one that spurred the events of Thursday. You waste so much time and effort on subjects that have been settled many times (RE: combining East and West into one school). WAKE UP! You have bigger issues to deal with.

    I never thought I would say this, but if I ever move back to the West Bend area, my kids will NOT be going though the West Bend school system…not until some major changes occur at the top. This school district is a far cry from the one I once knew and used to be able to be proud of.

  45. Lynn

    Excellent article. Understanding the point of this is just the final straw, there is never an excuse for what the students did yesterday. Whatever punishment they receive is deserved unfortunately as if you agreed to talk the. Talk do not act like a 5 year old. Similar things happen in the work force very day and unfortunately you don’t always like it. Hopefully our community can now find a much better way to handle the needed changes not only in our schools but in our town.

  46. Cal

    If you have to go, you have to go. Forcing kids and teens to use lanyards, or to wait after class, puts undue stress on the kidneys. Why must you control kids like they’re animals?

  47. K

    Lauren, after such an embarrassing public disaster, which seemingly exposed WBHS as a failing school completely overrun by unruly and entitled students, you were able to single-handedly restore hope back into the community with this incredibly well-written article. Please be proud of yourself. You deserve it. I’m utterly impressed by your literary skills. Every WBHS student (past and present) should be proud to call you a fellow classmate.

  48. kathryn

    Want a taste of th real world? Then you’re getting it! I’m a nurse, and a lot of what we deal with is policy, new policy, and policy reform. In a professional job, or any job really, you’re going to have to deal with change, or questioning administrative changes. You’re going to have to be able to find more appropriate ways to elicit change. No more sit ins or temper tantrums. Some of you are potentially 17 or 18 years old. In about 6 months you will be entering the adult world. This kind of things will not be tolerated else where.

  49. An alum

    If students are upset about administration getting in the way of their experience of being a teenager, they need to understand that it is par for the course. They will have a rude awakening when they enter the workforce and find that those above them will constantly be getting in the way of their own progress and success. Their parents, and especially their teachers, can certainly attest to that.

    I hope that Mr. Zappia does NOT share this utterly worthless article with his students. I have fond memories as a student of Mr. Zappia, but what he, the author of this article, and every student needs to understand is this: you are not special. Who here is aware of how attendance is taken? With barcodes. You are not a unique and precious snowflake. You are a barcode. When you enter adulthood and the workforce, you are a SSID number, a bank account number, a credit card number, a driver’s license number, an employee number. I predict that it won’t be long before a crop of these students will be known as an inmate number.

    This school is so enormous and this city has such a drug problem that the administration should be able to do whatever they need in the name of security. My understanding is that the meeting was meant to discuss what to do about a few bad apples spoiling it for everybody. Then, at the meeting, a few bad apples spoiled it for everybody. This is the reality you live in. This has nothing to do with “the progressive youth of West Bend”. When I hear that phrase, I am reminded of when the Gay Straight Alliance was started up 15 years ago or so. This is not that. This is about students showing their immaturity, and yes, all of you have to pay for it, because as a society we fail and succeed together (maybe someone should explain to them how insurance rates work?). Now all of you teachers and students grow up and get back to work.

  50. CDH

    I was thinking the same thing as kathryn. At both of my places of employment, there’s a growing number of policies, an increase every year in the amount of “training” that you have to squeeze in while trying to do your real work, forced to join committees… And you never see the higher-ups that are handing down the extra load. Get use to it kids.

    • WBE Alum

      You and Kathryn forget one important thing: Adults can change jobs when they get tired of the bureaucracy of their employer. These kids are stuck where they are until they graduate. You also get paid to deal with bureaucracy; what do the students get? It’s one thing to prepare them for the real world, but this is going a bit too far.

      The one question that hasn’t been answered is what was wrong with the previous system? What was so bad about the old pass system? Is the staff/administration too lazy to have to ask to see a pass? Why now all of a sudden is the AP exam not important enough that an in-class exam has to be given? Why was ending the class mural being considered? Why cut the every 15 minutes program? Change is fine, as long as there’s a reason for it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s