October 30, 2011Alpharetta High School has a positive climate and students are extremely well behaved, respectful and exhibit mature behavior and attitudes to each other and to the faculty and staff.
These are words from a school quality review conducted at Alpharetta High School. They were quoted by principal Shannon Kersey in an email to parents yesterday. It was an attempt to put a positive spin on news of terrible and violent fights at the school this week.
Selected tweets this week from Alpharetta HS students
And I'm sure these words are very true when describing Alpharetta High. The timing of the study is ironic. Social media channels have been abuzz this week with reports of multiple fights, trips to the hospital and even disturbing pictures. One camera phone pic I observed on twitter showed blood smeared on a cinder block wall. It contained the caption "It's not right without a fight…Alpharetta high school is now in the running for most ghetto." Another student tweet from earlier this week read "Only the ambulance would come for a fight at Alpharetta."
Was the violence at AHS exacerbated by the use of social media? Or did it just help spread the news? Hundreds of students walk the halls with iPhones that can blast pictures to friends and in seconds. Principal Kersey seems to acknowledge this in her letter, saying "this particular altercation has received more attention because some students photographed the location of the incident with their cell phones and shared the images through social media." Students can communicate in stunningly rapid and effective ways. It's a new reality that school administrators just have to deal with.
I don't think administrators need to dwell on social media but rather focus their attention on the troublesome students who bring violence into this good school. Fights are nothing new. Those who engage in violence at school should be given swift and certain punishment that includes expulsion. None of that should change.
I hope next week brings calm to the halls of Alpharetta High School. Please keep these students in your thoughts and prayers over the weekend.