Monday’s news started with a flap between the school district and Greenwich Republicans after their volunteers distributed political flyers at Central Middle School, which the district said was not allowed and had disrupted drop-off.
On Wednesday morning Greenwich Patriots e-blast described a video of a disturbing fight in the GHS student center on Monday, and criticized the district superintendent Dr. Toni Jones for the decision to close the student center during lunch and have students eat lunch outdoors.
“Why were all of the students at GHS punished for the terrible choices made by a few bad actors?” the Patriots asked. “In fact, it’s become such a frequent sight that students no longer seem shocked by the violence. They have become desensitized, and instead, reactively grab their cell phones and look for a good angle to shoot a video for Tik Tok or SnapChat. Or they learn to avoid certain areas where fights most frequently take place.”
The Patriots went on to criticize local media for publishing stories about the Republicans’ flyers distributed at Central Middle School, but not writing about student fights at GHS.
Greenwich Police share arrest reports with local media including names of arrestees who are age 18 or older, and this news site does publish the arrests of GHS students, which are infrequent.
On Wednesday afternoon GHS principal Ralph Mayo and Superintendent Jones sent an email to staff about the events of the week.
Mayo and Jones noted that GHS prided itself on being a great high school with strong norms, focused on academic success, while also valuing each individual in a kind and caring community. They noted 2022-2023 school year has been filled with amazing student and staff achievements, while continuing to have a welcoming environment.
They said they had heard from parents about two physical altercations in the building, the temporary closing of the Student Center, and Student Center restrooms temporarily being closing.
“All of these events have been out of the norm,” they explained.
First, they noted the restrooms in the Student Center were closed temporarily for one reason: a clogged drain. They said a specialized plumbing service was called in to locate and repair the issue. Notifications were sent to staff and students that included restroom locations that were in working order (Science Wing, Performing Arts Center, areas north of the glass corridor, etc.).
They added that while usually a clog would impact just one restroom area, this was a significant issue within a pipe that required outside assistance.
Regarding the Student Center, they explained that moving forward, students may choose to eat inside or outside to find their comfort zone.
As for the recent student fights they said, “We obviously do not condone this kind of behavior and we do follow up vigorously with those who act aggressively. In addition, it has been concerning that so many students gathered to film while laughing and cheering others on. This too is being followed up by the administration in a thorough process.”
In addition to encouraging all students to have meaningful conversations with staff members, they reminded the community that GHS has an Anonymous Alerts app where students can report unsafe situations without fear of retribution.
“Alerting the administration that something could happen before it does gives staff an opportunity to intervene before somebody gets seriously hurt,” they added.
The email listed reminders and next steps as follows:
- Aggressive behavior is reported to the police and assault charges are often filed. Aggressive fights go well beyond school discipline.
- Social media should be utilized responsibly and certainly not to embarrass and record others with no consideration that every person matters.
- Students could use the anonymous tip line to report unsafe situations.
What is GHS Doing to Make the Situation Better?
- Hosting meetings to reinforce expectations, GHS norms, and a calmer safer environment, and a review on the use of the anonymous tip line
- Enhancing security, SRO, and administrative monitoring in and across the building
- Identifying students who were recording the altercations; conversations with those specific students will start Friday
- Reminding students who may be nervous about some of the two recent actions to reach out to their counselor, administrators, or social worker for additional support
- Allowing students to spread out more during lunch, utilizing the outdoors, providing respite for those who do not find comfort in the vastness of the Student Center; finding a sense of calm is important
- Reminding students that social media use can have legal consequences; this is a difficult time to manage the complexities of social media in our society