Is the news scaring our students?

MCHS+students+were+subjected+to+a+bunch+of+negative+press+this+fall.+The+possibility+of+students+feeling+a+change+in+school+climate+is+high.

By Emanuel Negrete

MCHS students were subjected to a bunch of negative press this fall. The possibility of students feeling a change in school climate is high.

By Emanuel Negrete, Middle College High School

A school one hour away from Middle College endured two deaths and three injuries at the hands of an active shooter November 16. News outlets were quick to break the news and affect the mindsets of all who tuned in. It is becoming more common for students to feel unsafe due to the rate of which negatively-charged stories are being reported on.

Class is not in session

The first story to make headlines locally that affected MCHS was a gang-related car accident September 25. The vehicle had crashed into Santa Ana College, consequently leading to an email being sent to all students regarding the closing of campus early in the morning.

Freshman Alejandro Prado walks us through what happened the morning of the incident.

“When I found out, I was still asleep,” he says. “My mom told me, but I decided to go back asleep. But ten minutes later. I started getting texts from my friends and it ended up being something I didn’t expect.”

Prado is referring to the fact that the incident was not initially reported to be gang related. The revelation of that made him more aware of his surroundings.

“I just felt how we all were concerned about what happened. It showed that while we didn’t have school, everybody still cared about what was happening at our campus and how it could’ve affected the college.” says Prado.

Valeria Velarde, senior at Middle College, worried for students as she woke up to the news as well.

“At first, I didn’t really have a reaction because I was tired. But then after I processed what happened, I got really worried and really scared because that all happened like in the morning. What if kids were already at school and they had gotten that email? What if that had happened while students were already at school?” said Velarde.

Velarde mentions how her perceptions of school safety were changed with the event. Her concerns grew when she was found out the car accident was involved in a shooting.

“Honestly, it didn’t feel very well because you don’t expect that stuff to be in this kind of area. With the way that SAC looks and the places near it, you don’t really expect that stuff to come into the safe space. But it’s come to the safe space now, so it feels like it’s been compromised, like it burst the bubble,” said Velarde.

Velarde’s concern is a new one, as weeks prior to the car incident, Mr. Voight had spoken to all classrooms on the subject of safety when one of our students found themselves in a dangerous situation with one of the college students.

The Safety Evaluation: Weeks Prior to Campus Shutdown

Students first experienced negative press when an inappropriate relationship between a SAC student and an MCHS student came to light in September.

Senior Aaron Cuellar describes the emotions he first felt when media coverage on our school began.

“That did make me feel a little bit uncomfortable. I was just kinda surprised that it happen. It’s a weird feeling knowing a Middle College student was involved in something like that. Because, going back to the other event, nothing like that has ever really happened when I was at Middle College the past three years.”

Freshman Alan Esqueda talks about how the event made him and his family think about safety as the media coverage began.

“For me, it was more of a wake up call because from that I’m like ‘oh yeah I’ll just mind my own business and avoid relations with SAC students,'” he said. “My mom, she became scared. She was like always go with a friend or go somewhere with more than two people…and she kept on telling me to be careful and be safe and to make sure that I’m not interacting with older people.”

This event sparked the extension of the Wellness Center. Now, the Wellness Center is open until 7 p.m.

Senior Eric Ramirez gave his opinion regarding this new schedule.

“I feel like it was too reactionary,” said Ramirez. “You’d think that a school where students take classes at night would have it from the beginning.”

Fearmongering and the effects of the Press

The combination of the two events made students at Middle College talk about their feelings regarding the media. The consensus was that events in the media make people think events happen much more frequently than they actually do.

Freshman Dasha Cordon shared her opinion regarding coping mechanisms when confronted with a lot of bad news.

“It can happen anywhere, so of course I’m not mad at the school because you can’t control those things. You can’t control what people are going to do to you or anyone. I still feel safe,” said Cordon.

Freshman Daniela de la Cruz shares with students her method of consolation. She searches up the probabilities of events to counteract sensationalism in the media.

“When this event happens-and it’s rare- I was shocked and I wanted to get more into the story, but I knew anyone wouldn’t let me do that. When they clarified what happened, I started searching up percentages and ratings about people who go through this, it’s not that common,” said Cruz.

Regardless of the event coverage, Velarde summed up the reasons why some students might have changed their opinion about school climate.

“I’m still under the mentality that schools are supposed to be your safe space. It’s supposed to be where you go and feel safe and protected and all this now there’s all this stuff like shot or stabbed or hurt or something. There is a whole bunch of threats at school that aren’t supposed to happen here,” said Velarde.

This story was originally published on The Spellbinder on December 13, 2019.