On Nov. 9, anxiety gripped Foothill’s campus after a bomb threat was discovered on the wall of the girls’ restroom. The shocking discovery unsettled the school, and at least 52 students left the campus. In the wake of these events, some have begun to question whether the atmosphere of Foothill has changed since it was founded.
Two and a half years ago, as a freshman at Foothill, I was astounded by the trusting relationship between teachers and the students. Most teachers do not require bathroom passes, and display confidence and trust towards their students. Students are allowed to do activities such as eat or use their cell phones in class, something unimaginable in the environment of my middle school. In return, students are expected to exercise good judgment and not abuse those privileges.
Sadly, it feels to many that what sets Foothill apart is changing, that a subtle transformation in the culture of our school is occurring. Some have even questioned whether the introduction of athletics to the campus could be a contributing factor.
While Foothill sports have been a source of much pride and accomplishment, they have also been the genesis of doubt as to the continued sincerity of the school’s founding principles. Many fear a potential loss of the values that have made Foothill different from the outset.
“It’s adding positivity for sure, but it also is changing with the idea of kids constantly missing [class],” history teacher Dan Fitz-Patrick said.
Undoubtedly the new sports program has proven its worth, as shown by the girls’ water polo team and our established cross country runners, but many worry that academics and culture may, as an unintended consequence, carry less emphasis. Doubtless, it is necessary to maintain equality between academics and all extracurricular activities, not just sports.
Other factors are likely contributing to the change. The culture of Foothill’s campus is a much broader and more complicated topic, one too complex to be solely affected by the new sports program.
Unfortunately the recent bomb threat is one of those factors, and has altered the relationship of trust that exists between faculty and students. Student’s rights to access the restroom was temporarily restricted in an effort to contain the situation. The administration undoubtedly took the only available course of action in restricting access to the bathrooms, however it was not without cost.
As much as the threats themselves, the restroom situation fractured trust between the students and the administration. The temporary policy created an atmosphere that felt as if the faculty was closely monitoring the students and punishing the collective for what is seemingly an outlying event.
Doubtless, this is not what the faculty intended, and I do not want it to be construed as such. Closing the restrooms was the logical and safe course of action. Unfortunately, perception is often much more powerful than fact.
English teacher Jennifer Kindred spoke of a mutual trust between students and herself, even the ones she doesn’t know personally. This is integral to the community of Foothill. As students and teachers we both must work hard to maintain that trust.
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As well, students needed to show more maturity in handling the frightening situation.
“What happened with this is that kids saw it and took pictures of it and texted their friends that it was happening,” ASB Director Melanie “Captain” Lindsey said. While the information did eventually make its way to authorities, they were not the first ones to know. That should not have happened.
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Irresponsible and immature actions like these ultimately lead to a distrust of the students by the faculty. This will force the faculty to view the students as children rather than how students want to be viewed as adults.
Undeniably, trust was lost on both sides, and the citizens of Foothill must work even harder to rebuild it again. Despite how it might feel, this is not a catastrophic event. The good that exists on Foothill’s campus far outweighs the bad.
Personally, I love Foothill. It is a very special place to me. It has helped me to become who I am today, and to feel profoundly loved and accepted. Regardless of recent events, I feel that Foothill still has an incredibly unique and amazing atmosphere.
Now that the dust has settled and the flurry of worry and fear returns to normalcy, how do we continue on? Where do we go from here?
Rather than asking if the school’s atmosphere is changing, we need to ask ourselves, “How do we hold on to the values that make Foothill special?” How do we hold on to the wonderful atmosphere that so many love in order to preserve it for future generations?
The answer is simple: we must make a conscious effort to preserve it.
Throughout my time at Foothill, I have been thoroughly impressed with the accepting attitude of the majority of students and the caring nature of the teachers. In a time of hardship we must come together and encourage one another. We must continue to be accepting and not suspicious or judgmental.
“Culture and climate should come first, and everything else will be much better if we’re focusing on that culture and climate,” Lindsey said.
I implore every student and teacher to continue to be friendly, greet other students and faculty in the hallway, go out of your way to make a new friend, give a stranger a compliment. That is what makes us Dragons.
“I think that we have opportunities daily to reconnect with one another, and to be good, kind, thoughtful Dragons,” Lindsey said.
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That is the essence of Foothill. That is what makes us unique. That is what will keep the spirit of Foothill from changing.
Featured Photo Credit: Jenny Chang/The Foothill Dragon Press