HIGH POINT — When fourth-grader Bryce Davis stepped to the microphone Tuesday night, he wanted to tell a room full of parents, educators and city leaders exactly what he and other High Point students need from the community.
“There are problems we need to fix,” said Bryce, who attends Montlieu Math and Science Academy in High Point, holding the microphone in his hand. “Some kids are sneaky. When they do things wrong, they don’t get into trouble. We need teachers to have an eye out for the bad students.”
The community forum at City Hall — sponsored by community groups including the High Point Human Relations Commission, the High Point Black Leadership Roundtable, the High Point chapter of the NAACP and High Point Racial Healing — drew comments about reports of recent school violence and disruption.
In the past few weeks, High Point police arrested 10 students at Andrews High School in connection with fights. Three others were charged in connection with a “hit list” that threatened students and teachers.
“We have met with school leaders and police officials for countless number of hours and have yet to come up with a solution,” Joe Alston, president of the High Point chapter of the NAACP, told the audience of about 50 people. “We tried to put the problem on lack of school discipline or on law enforcement. But in fact the problems in our schools are community-based.”
About 30 residents, parents, teachers, civic leaders and ministers offered their thoughts on why school violence and disruption were increasing in Guilford County schools.
Some linked the problems with violence to lack of character development and moral values taught in schools.
“We have a spiritual problem,” said Willie Garrison, a High Point resident. “We took prayer out and left a void. The ideas that filled the void have left our kids morally corrupt.”
Others said the problems weren’t school issues, but begin in the home.
“Parent involvement needs to start at the elementary school level,” said Sharon Thomas, a parent and teaching assistant at Ragsdale High School. Thomas said one of her sons had been involved in a fight at school and was suspended.
Others blamed the media coverage for giving the High Point schools a bad image.
“There was a lovely multicultural day at one school and 911 was called,” said Debbie Maines, a parent and second vice-president for the Guilford County Council of PTAs. “When the media found out it was only for a child having a seizure, they left.”
A few speakers offered up solutions on how to fix the problems.
“Is there any counseling offered with expulsions and suspensions?” asked Terry Gibson, a High Point parent.
Others suggested a task force made up of family counselors, church leaders, parents and students involved in some of the disruptive behavior and school uniforms to help students feel like a unified group. Another resolution was to put vocational training such as automotive work and carpentry back into the school curriculums for students whose interests aren’t in traditional education.
Still others only had more questions than answers, such as: What happened to respect? Where did we lose our kids? What are we doing to get parents more involved?
Al Heggins, director of the city’s Human Relations Department, had the participants fill out information cards and said the groups will plan more forums related to the school violence issues.
While no future dates were set, Heggins said the groups could hold forums to address parents and another to talk with students.
Contact Sue Schultz at 883-4422, Ext. 232, or email@example.com