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A School Divided

Magnet Staff

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Today in the media, there are reports of people who would prefer not to sit by someone wearing a hijab on an airplane because of the terrorist attacks made by ISIS. This is caused by people who do not know much about different cultures. Unfortunately, similar situations are seen at OHS that come from students only knowing what they have heard from other students being disrespectful at school or making crude jokes on social media. To make matters worse, the presidential campaign this year has been less than polite to immigrants, and people of non-white races. “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists,” said Donald Trump about Mexican immigrants in his speech announcing he was running for president last June, covered by ABC 7.  Sadly, this horrible twisted thinking is easily influencing students who are interested in the campaign.

This culture of disrespect and distrust can be seen at OHS. One of the problems in our school is how much the underclassmen are looked down upon, and it seems as though each year gets worse. The upperclassmen forget that they were in the same exact place just one or two years ago. Freshmen and Sophomores look up to the upperclassmen, and the upperclassmen, in some cases, are setting a bad example. Underclassmen feel they  are forced to rely on faculty for safety. They feel as though there is not enough staff to supervise everyone in places where fights easily break out, like the lunch room; however, it is not a staff problem, it is a student problem. The upperclassmen need to step it up and set better examples and respect the needs of the other students. To earn respect, you must show respect.

Another piece of the puzzle is that there are a plethora of cliques at OHS. It feels like neighborhoods of people within the building. Students feel sucked into certain groups because of activities they’re in, their grade, and their race, rather than personality, causing the school to be segregated and as if they’re just trying to get their numbers up. The students in the cliques only talk to and hang out with other students in their clique. Students not in the cliques, especially underclassmen, feel threatened by the cliques. They also feel threatened because they make assumptions about people’s race and/ or the stereotypes.

Safety is key to having a successful school. We need a safe environment to learn in, and Owatonna High School students do not feel safe. Last year, we had a huge breach in our feeling of security when multiple bomb threats were made against the school. OHS  evacuated because of the threat to the building. That day, sports practices were still held at the high school, making most of the students in after school activities either skip practice or go to practice and feel apprehensive through the majority of practice, making it hard to get things done. Students did not know whether or not to take the bomb threats as just a joke made by someone wanting to get out of a test, or if they were serious and that they could potentially be injured or killed. Security measures were taken, but students felt like the changes made in our daily schedule were put to the extreme with bag checks and the no backpack policy with no real results seen. They felt it was more of an inconvenience, rather than something to protect their safety.

Here is a challenge: Let us make our school a better, safer place for everyone. Set a good example for the younger kids in our school and the ones coming in later years. Be an upstander, versus a bystander, and report any harassment or disrespect that you see, and treat others the way you want to be treated, a lesson from elementary school that people need to relearn and refocus on.

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The student news site of Owatonna High School.