By Cori Baishiki, Clarion Staff Reporter
New year, new problems… or maybe old. The beginning of the school year started out with some unexpected fights. According to Alex Barrios, Chief Communications Director for the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD), September is notorious for fights breaking out since new students are adjusting to different environments. With these new students comes old problems and drama. In this year alone, about 12 fights were reported at John F. Kennedy in the first 5 – 6 weeks. Around the same time last year, it was 13. As a result, some students transferred out or did not show up to school.
Public news did not help this cause either: KCRA stated that the recent fights had “gang-related” causes. Is this accurate?
David Van Nattan, Kennedy principal, discounts the gang connection and says the fights vary.
“You’d be surprised at how minimal the reasons are [for starting fights]. They come from fights that happened at Taco Bell, problems that weren’t solved in middle school, and simple misunderstandings.”
So, what did the school administration do?
Split the lunch.
As horrible as a split lunch may seem, there are some benefits to this new change. Although many students are separated from their friends, more students are fed at lunch. Students have to adjust to their new schedule, like having lunch before P.E. or leaving your class for lunch and going back to it after lunch.
When asked if the split lunch will last forever, Principal Van Nattan said, “We aren’t sure if this lunch ordeal is permanent yet. Time will tell.”
And if Van Nattan would have split the lunches anyway, without the fights?
“No, I wouldn’t have instituted it the same. The talk of the split lunch has been going around since the cafeteria has had trouble feeding everyone.”
Parents believe that the fights are due to the lack of student resource officers (SROs) now. As of August 29, 2018, SCUSD stated that there are 8 SROs in our district who work alongside the SCUSD Office of Safe Schools. Vicki Gonzales, a reporter at KCRA 3 shared information from SCUSD who stated that the district “cut its student resource officers staff in half, from eight to four officers.” This may as well be one of many reasons fights occurred: without as many officers around, students can pick fights easily and almost get away with it.
Student rumors spread that if another fight happens, “school will be canceled for a week, but we will have to make it up at the end of the year.” This was proven false by a current Kennedy staff member.
A rumor that homecoming would be cancelled due to the fights, however, was credible. Homecoming was held as planned, but was briefly in jeopardy and could have been canceled as a punishment for the whole school.
One student at Kennedy spoke on condition of anonymity.
“I believe the idea of canceling homecoming due to the fights and violence on campus is reasonable, yet unfair. Although a good amount of students have been getting into fights … it shouldn’t affect other students’ well-being. I understand that the school is afraid of an outbreak during the dance, however, there should be other ways to resolve the issue besides canceling it.”
Students may still be upset over the split lunch, but Kennedy seems to have adjusted for now. Principal Van Nattan has not given any word that this split lunch will end anytime soon; therefore, students must wait patiently or get comfortable with this new change.
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