Editorial: Reflecting On BHS Culture and Community

Cece Brisbois, Staff Writer

The week of October 31 to November 7 left many students, teachers and administrators in shock. The week’s events include two physical fights and a trash barrel lit on fire. Insight Newspaper believes that these situations are preventable and that the culture here at Barnstable High School must be fixed. 

Fights are the new normal. It is proven statistically that fights in schools have skyrocketed due to returning to school post Covid. Students lack a whole year of emotional and social growth which takes away the ability to understand one another. For many students, fights are an everyday occurrence and even see it as normality. Afraid to get involved with the fight or be called a “snitch” by telling a teacher kids walk away and ignore events like these to stay out of trouble. This harms the culture here as we should all feel comfortable enough to be able to use words and reasoning with each other instead of being physical. Learning to be comfortable with each other is very valuable, but so is teacher and student relationships.

 Also due to Covid, teachers’ relationships with their students have declined so much that some only know their students name and grade. With teachers building stronger bonds with students, a level of trust is developed that allows students to feel safe and welcome. Mostly, but not always, students who start fights or act out are usually feeling neglected or have a hard home life. Students connecting with teachers and counselors would help us realize what they might be going through and how to help. Teachers are called to get to know their students, more than just the basics. Teachers and students building stronger relationships, will create a safer Barnstable community. To add on to the hard home life, if students lack the needed attention at home their response may be to act out in school. Students want to gain attention, even if it is negative by anyone. 

Overall, the point of fighting is still lacking as they know they will eventually get in trouble, but that doesn’t alter some teens’ choices. With the recent withdrawal of in school suspensions and IRC suspended students might find themselves on a five-day vacation instead of being punished. As the minimum for being involved in or with a fight is 5-10 days, students know they will get some time off. Since some students who start fights feel as though they don’t get enough attention at home, the parents of the child might never know or care about the suspension and neglect to discipline them at home. 

The fights here in Barnstable were not overlooked at all though, and addressed right away. Principal, Elisabeth Freedman held assemblies for all grades and sent out emails explaining what had happened. Many appreciated how direct and open the administration was and how they made it clear the punishments of fights and legal charges that can come with it. Some were skeptical that the punishments listed were just scare tactics and are waiting for action over words. The administration has already begun trying to find why these kids fought and teach them they were wrong through community service. Still, others believe that to prevent fights students must have more older students influencing and guiding them, such as in programs like Peer Leadership.  Overall students coming together and learning what they can do to improve their school environment was a positive experience for many.

As students, we are called to not be a bystander by watching or filming a fight, but to make a positive difference by helping others. We must learn to communicate with each other instead of turning to violence. Upperclassmen are expected to be role models and show the younger classes what is to be expected. By doing these things we can create a safe and healthy Barnstable High School culture.