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March 21, 2024
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Oakdale High School Addresses Recent Student Altercations

The+OHS+SAVE+club+created+a+bulletin+board+for+the+hallways+to+remind+students+to+report+anything+they+see+or+hear.
McKenzie Mollica
The OHS SAVE club created a bulletin board for the hallways to remind students to report anything they see or hear.

Myth: Oakdale High School (OHS) had three fights in one day.

Fact: OHS experienced no more than one fight a day.

Myth: As a repercussion of the fighting, the bathrooms are locked all day.

Fact: They are only locked during lunch shift transitions.

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On Friday, Jan. 26, the “silent fight” broke out during fourth lunch. This began what many believed to be a “streak.” In the span of two weeks, the school experienced roughly seven fights between students, both verbal and physical

As of Feb. 20, the school has officially gone a week without any altercations. This could be the result of more severe consequences enforced amongst students involved. Consequences can range from restorative approaches, like mediation, to punitive measures, like detentions, time in the alternative learning center, suspensions, expulsions and removal to alternative locations. There are many factors that play into the outcome, which include the role of the student in the fight and their past offenses and actions.

“We have incentives and we have consequences,” Oakdale High Principal Bill Caulfield mentioned. “One thing Mr. Wolcott and I are trying to figure out is whether or not students should be allowed to participate in extracurriculars and/or athletics.”

Caulfield referred to these activities as “privileges.” That means clubs and athletics can be taken away from students as well.

Clubs are one of the main strategies for spreading information to the student body. Earlier this school year, The Oakdale Post covered the SAVE club, which stands for Students Against Violence Everywhere. With the recent fights occurring within the school, SAVE members have found it to be their responsibility to share their thoughts.

An Oakdale student posted a photo gallery of clips from fights within the building to prompt fights for the “streak.” (McKenzie Mollica)

“We can preach all that we want to reduce violence in schools across the nation, but now, it’s at our front door. We must act now. If you see something, say something, and remember that there are people who can guide you through the process of reporting incidents and even aid you in getting help,” OHS junior and SAVE President Evie Graham shared.

A number of reports came from the anonymous tip line.

“Many of these incidents were disagreements which started outside the building and brought in, where students knew staff would intervene,” Caulfield stated, distinguishing from the role social media played.

On social media sites, encouragement for these incidents and misinformation spread amongst the community.

On Snapchat, students promoted the idea of a “streak” with the hope that other students would have another fight the following day. It was seen as a challenge to some, which could be the reason for some extra altercations.

While students spent their time on Snapchat, parents used Facebook voicing concerns about the lack of communication from the school as well as fear for the safety of their child. The issue with some of the comments was the missing and false information. Some did not have the full story or posted comments that contained incorrect statements.

Parents spread misinformation in a community group on Facebook. (McKenzie Mollica)

What many also didn’t understand, even some students, was what information can and cannot be shared. Student’s names and punishments cannot be shared with the public. Communication between administration and the OHS community was welcomed in order to keep citizens informed and to prevent the public from thinking Oakdale is nothing but fights and danger, as this is inaccurate.

“Some of these situations are teenagers who are very angry about something and something happens and they make a bad decision. Otherwise, they’re strong in the classroom and they do the right thing most of the time and they have a bad moment, and we can’t judge them by their worst moments. I think they are the ones we have to hold accountable, and then give them a chance to show growth,” expressed Caulfield.

To continue the discussion of this or any other issue, Caulfield plans for a Coffee Chat in March; look for the FOF.

This story was originally published on The Oakdale Post on February 22, 2024.