With the help of new rules, leaders, and students, fights have declined at Riverside in the past three years.
Every year, new students arrive at Riverside. These students bring new energy to the school, mostly positive. Transitioning from middle school to high school is a very big step for teenagers. Throughout this transition, teens change a lot. Hopefully, they will have learned from their previous mistakes and learned to deal with the upcoming challenges they will face in high school.
As students physically grow, they grow mentally as well. Students learn to handle their problems in a mature way, even when it comes to fighting. Senior Mone’ja Howard has changed her attitude towards fights over time.
“Mone’ja in tenth grade would’ve fought, but senior Mone’ja is different.”
In an interview with The Pirates’ Hook in 2017, Howard said that she enjoys watching fights.
“It’s not fair that you can get suspended for recording a fight,” she said. “Maybe I wanted to send it to Worldstar Hip Hop or something.”
Now, she believes that fighting is not the answer and that the punishment is not worth it.
Many attribute the decline to Principal Tonya Williams. Williams joined the Riverside community in October 2016. Since that year, fight culture has changed more. During the 2016-17 school year, there were 58 fighting/physical aggression incidents. In 2017-18 there were 55. This year there have been a total of 33 incidents.
Williams works together with administrators, teachers, and SROs to have a more proactive environment and, in situations like fights, to have a better outcome.
“We just really talk through issues so that it’s not that somebody feels unsafe at school or like they feel like they have to defend themselves,” Williams stated.
With that in mind, she wants students to know that teachers, counselors and even herself are willing to help if they have any issues.
“If they have a conflict, they don’t feel like they have to solve it on their own,” she said.
Assistant principal Britton Brown believes that everyone – from students to even administrators – are trying to be more proactive.
“Teachers are working to be proactive and work on stopping things before they happen,” he said.
Williams is also making it her goal to be restorative in situations like this. If there is a problem administrators work to fix it so it won’t happen again, instead of just pushing it away. In the past, if students were in a fight or were physically aggressive they would get suspended for ten days. Students would not only get suspended for being in a fight, but also for recording it, no questions asked.
“If there is a conflict and something happened, we try not to just say everybody gets 10 days,” Williams said.
”We’re just trying to take it more on a case-by-case basis to see what the consequence needs to be because we know the data suggests, the suspension doesn’t really work.”
*graphic by Juliana Primus