STAFF EDITORIAL: School officials need to be more transparent
October 24, 2016
Homecoming and threats and clowns, oh my!
We can all agree that the week of Oct. 7 was not the finest moment in Wenatchee High School history. Safety concerns surrounding a threatening graffiti message alluding to an act of violence led to school being canceled on Oct. 7.
Not that our administration had much choice in canceling school, as the student body’s fears encouraged many to skip school on Oct. 7; to hold school would punish those who decided to stay home for their safety. Additionally, the disturbing anecdotes from students vowing to bring weapons to school for protection would undoubtedly lead to disaster. All it takes is for one person to mistake an innocent pencil pouch for a firearm and suddenly someone has a Swiss Army knife jammed into their retina.
Our administration did, however, have a choice whether to reveal information about the threats to us or not. Their efforts to consistently veil information from the student body they’re serving only contributed to the climate of fear and distrust that was already circulating around the threats. We know that the police asked administrators not to release anything until the investigation had been completed, but why? What’s even the point? Everyone is going to be gossiping about the messages anyway, why not be transparent and lay all the rumors to rest? The lack of transparency surrounding almost every point of controversy in our district creates a clear divide between students and the administration. What right do they have to pick and choose which information is appropriate for our consumption, especially when considering our safety?
Transparency was our goal when we decided to write about the threats. We made the decision as editors that parents and students deserve to be informed about issues that directly affect their safety. We wanted students to be aware of their situation so that they could make informed decisions for themselves instead of listening to gossip or the alarmingly little information they heard from administration. Wide-spread gossip and the murky uncertainty of empty statements would have undoubtedly created more panic than the naked truth. High schoolers are not children to be coddled with false promises of safety, they deserve honesty. As a newspaper, being candid is our job.
While we support the decision to cancel school, it raises questions about how we handle these situations in the future. Are we going to go to DEFCON 5 every time somebody jots down a few words on a bathroom wall to get out of running the mile? And was shutting down the school the right decision anyways? Wouldn’t it have sent a stronger message if we brought in more security, metal detectors, bag checks, etc. instead of taking our ball and going home? It goes without saying that we need to be careful about letting students exercise control over when they want their three-day weekends.
Also, calm down about the clowns. They’re not going to eat your children or tie your intestines into balloon animals. They’re just trying to get a rise out of you. And it’s working.
Signed by Austin Blakney, Chris Danko, Sylvia Hwang, Moses Lurbur, Rylie Sweem, Jessica Wierzbicki, Gretta Wiersma, Cameron Wood, and Sabrina Zhu.