Bloody Mess of A Year?

How safe do you feel walking around Apopka High School? At our school this semester, perhaps you might have noticed an uptick in fights. The Blue & White has spoken with Principal Lyle Heinz about this issue and he gave us solutions and some useful information for The Blue & White that gave us insight into how the school is actively trying to prevent these fights. We attempted to make contact with the school resource officers at Apopka, but did not receive any response in time. 

Getting specific details about fights on campus was difficult. We wanted to know exactly how many fights were on campus so far this year. When asked if he knew how many fights we’ve had, Principal Heinz said, “Not off the top of my head, I don’t have the information in front of me.” So we tried asking where we could find the exact number. For that it would require a “…records request to downtown.” There’s no telling how long it would take to get information from “downtown,” so we decided to ask the students at Apopka High School. The answers we got from students ranged from ten to twenty six. Sophomore Shane Moody, guessed, “twenty six.”  “At least twelve,” Junior Messiah Martini estimates. Senior Jackson Hall says, “fifteen, plus.” Although student opinion can’t be seen as fact, we as students have seen and heard of these fights and we know there have been plenty of them, so what is there to stop them? More specifically, what is the administration at our school doing to stop them? Principal Heinz wanted to make it very clear that there has been a decrease in fights since the first nine weeks of the school year. One reason why there were so many fights in the first quarter is because of social media tension that builds over the summer. Principal Heinz tells us that some students “…don’t know how to address their conflict in other ways.” Mr. Carmen, the SAFE counseler and Ms. Christina Ramos, the school social worker here at Apopka High School, both work with conflict resolution when it comes to two students with a quarrel. 

How bad are the consequences for getting into a fight or watching one? “It varies,” Heinz tells us. It varies because there are many different classifications in the code of conduct for fights at Apopka High School. Something Heinz also wanted to make clear is that the students fighting at OCPS make up a very small percentage, and that after all, it’s the students who stop the fights before they happen. “We now have some people that monitor social media,” Heinz tells us. The “social media monitors” Heinz speaks about are made up of both adults and students. Students on social media will see a verbal conflict online and report it before chaos ensues.  We tried to get in contact with school resource officer Drew Parkinson to hear his opinions and gather information from him, but received response.

It was very difficult to pinpoint an exact number on the number of fights at campus this year. According to Heinz, he thinks we’ve seen a decline over the past few years. But without evidence, it’s hard to tell. With the estimations of students we can come to somewhat of an answer but nothing exact. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you know something bad is about to happen. We should learn to solve disputes through friendly conversations and not violent altercations. We should know when our friends at Apopka are stepping out of line by causing a potential threat. By being mindful of what’s happening online and reporting something suspicious or dangerous, you aren’t being a snitch, you’re preventing your fellow peers from potentially facing arrest, expulsion, and worst of all, injuring themselves and others. It takes some bravery to stand up to the classmates we dislike, but a lot more to stand up to our friends.