Tensions remain high at Highline High over ‘Spirit Rock’; public meeting Thurs.


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An all-school assembly was held at Highline High School Monday morning, June 12, to address increased tensions since a gay pride message on the ‘Spirit Rock’ on the school’s front lawn was painted over, then shared widely with a disparaging caption on social media.

A followup community meeting open to families and the public is scheduled for this Thursday, June 15, from 6 – 7 p.m. at the school library.

Both Highline Public Schools Superintendent Susan Enfield and Principal Vicki Fisher moderated Monday’s assembly, where they told students “we want to hear their thoughts, concerns, and ideas for resolving current tensions on campus.”

They then dismissed students to their advisory classes, where teachers, the superintendent and members of her team facilitated conversations with groups of students.

“We also invited students to share their experiences and ideas on paper,” Fisher added.

As we previously reported, the controversy started when some students painted a pro-Trump message over a gay pride one on Wednesday, June 7, then shared a photo of it that included the caption “Fixed it”:

Numerous students were upset about this incident, and tensions have been high on campus ever since, and school security officers are monitoring the rock to prevent further painting.

“It is clear from your messages that there are misconceptions and misinformation in the community about what has and has not happened at HHS in the past week,” Principal Vicki Fisher said in an email. “I want to assure you that at no point have frustrations escalated to confrontations or violence.”

PUBLIC INVITED TO MEETING THURSDAY
Families and members of the community have been invited to a community meeting this Thursday, June 15, from 6 – 7 p.m. for a listening session in the school library.

“I want to devote this time to hearing your suggestions for how we can move forward as a school community,” Fisher said.

Here’s Fisher’s full letter:

Dear Families,

I know we are all concerned about tensions at our school related to last week’s events. I have received many emails and phone messages expressing your concerns. It is clear from your messages that there are misconceptions and misinformation in the community about what has and has not happened at HHS in the past week. I want to assure you that at no point have frustrations escalated to confrontations or violence. As a precaution, we have had extra security on campus, and we will continue to do everything in our power to keep our students safe at school.

This morning, we gathered all students in the gym, where both Superintendent Enfield and I told them we want to hear their thoughts, concerns, and ideas for resolving current tensions on campus. Then we dismissed students to their advisory classes, where teachers, the superintendent and members of her team facilitated conversations with groups of students. We also invited students to share their experiences and ideas on paper.

The notes from today’s conversations will help us plan the next steps we will take together as a school community in the coming school year. We have invited students and staff to join us in planning over the summer. Interested students can sign up in the school office. Several innovative ideas have already been suggested, including a student-published newsletter on tolerance and acceptance, a student-led assembly to share personal stories, and training for staff on addressing race and equity.

Next year, we will focus on learning to better accept and respect each other, regardless of our beliefs, backgrounds, identities, or political opinions. This is critical work for all of us–students, staff and families.

I am inviting families and members of our community to be part of this healing. I know many of you would like the opportunity to share your thoughts and ideas. Please join me this Thursday, June 15 at 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. for a listening session in the school library. I want to devote this time to hearing your suggestions for how we can move forward as a school community.

Thank you for your continued support of our students.

Sincerely,
Vicki Fisher
Principal

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Comments

16 Responses to “Tensions remain high at Highline High over ‘Spirit Rock’; public meeting Thurs.”
  1. Ira Hartman says:

    What happened to “reading, writing, and arithmetic?

    How long has it been since civics has been taught?

    Rate: Thumb up 37 Thumb down 6

  2. Jody says:

    This can all be solved very easily. Just make a policy immediately that the rock is only for high school spirt! NO religion, race, sexual preference, or politics can be painted on this rock. This rock is on school property. It is not public property so it should only contain what it was originally put there for, High School spirt, rivalry between schools, ect. Only for school functions. Any graffiti painted on the rocks that has nothing to do with high school spirt or on any other school property should be painted over immediately.

    If any students notice hurtful, hateful, inappropriate basically any graffiti, they should contact the school office so school can paint over the graffiti asap. If it isn’t cover with in a certain time frame then contact the ERAC office. Stop posting on social media this stuff gets so blown out of proportion and it goes sideways which hurts more people.

    As with any graffiti it should be painted over as soon as seen. If it is taken care of as soon as noticed and not posted on the media then these people will give up and quit because they won’t get their 5 min of fame.

    I will add one more thing some of the graffiti isn’t on school property that is in Mosier Field parking lot which has to do with the Burien parks dept. So they need to be contacted and they do come out as soon as they are aware any graffiti and paint over it usually the same day.

    If having just a School Spirt Rock only causes to many hard feelings then just pull the rock out now. Quit wasting valuable money having a security guard sitting there watching the rock making sure no one paints it. That money should be used in other important educational areas.

    Rate: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 6

  3. Ed says:

    Just get rid of the rock. Problem solved.

    Rate: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 9

  4. Colleen says:

    Maybe there should be guidelines to keep all agendas off the rock! Go back to the simple let’s paint our graduation class year and leave it at that

    Rate: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 3

  5. Stuart J says:

    I can’t speak to the situation at Highline HS, but in general, state graduation requirements do now require a semester of Civics. Highline School District adopted those graduation requirements last week at the board meeting. The civics instruction a child of mine had in a Highline middle school was quite good. His high school social studies class in 10th also had some very good civics content.

    Rate: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  6. Clean it up! says:

    As young people who live in a country that believes in freedom of speech and who may soon be serving our country in our military, I say the kids have a right to paint the rock with whatever is on their minds, as long as it is not profane or hateful. Dump the Trump!would give me a good laugh! 🙂

    Rate: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 22

  7. Carol says:

    A trivial difference of message…all this angst. Take a deep breath, people. It’s a rock with paint on it. Not the end of the world. All of us need tougher hides and to move on with our own lives and quit worrying about minor nits that mean nothing. In six months, how many will even remember this nonsense let alone be upset by it? Save your powder for something real and dangerous. Not free speech.

    Rate: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 10

  8. Terri says:

    If this were just about the rock there would be no issue.

    It is about the video of the actions and words of the kids who did this.

    It was homophobic and racist. It was done by kids who have bullied kids of color and gay kids in school and outside of school.

    None of these actions are ok. At the time it was reported the administration told the students at HL that no action would be taken against the perpetrators as there was no evidence – despite the fact that a video existed. When a student objected – that student was suspended.

    Kids of color and gay kids don’t feel safe. They are not protected from the bullying. They hear staff saying racist and homophobic hate talk. It is not limited to Highline High School. There are teachers at Mt Rainier who wont join other teachers in their lunchroom as the racist and homophobic talk amongst the faculty there.

    South Kind County is majority people of color. They and their children should not have to bear this illegal activity. They should not as one student put it “have to teach the administration and faculty what racism is”

    It needs to end NOW

    Rate: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 24

    • Peter says:

      Terri – maybe we can appoint you final arbiter on what constitutes racism and homophobia, bullying, etc. as you seem to have a grasp on exactly what that is and where it is occurring. I mean, why is proof of anything necessary when we have lots of hearsay and claims by you that the issue is widespread.

      Seriously – painting a rock with the US flag and a pro-Trump message is NOT inherently racism or bullying. This controversy is much ado about very little.

      Rate: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 8

  9. Mike Johnson says:

    The most thoughtful words so far I just read in the Terri post. Racism and bigotry have always been with us and are on the rise. It is dangerous and irresponsible to Deny it.

    Rate: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 21

  10. Anonymus says:

    I feel like yes, people should have the freedom of speech. The caption “Fixed it!” is the thing that starting this whole thing. It’s pride month and the spirit rock was painted with pride colors, cool. “Fixed it” is starting all of this contreversy. It shows that the student is trying to antagonize people and is trying to start drama. It’s really sad to see this. Why don’t people leave politics out of this and support the community?

    Rate: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

  11. Anonymus says:

    I feel like if racism and bigotory wasn’t involved this wouldn’t be a problem.

    Rate: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

  12. Captain obvious says:

    Does anyone know who was the first person who posted this picture above as in which social media account not blog or news source.

    Does anyone know if this was ultimately meant to be some type of stupid prank. With some kids using words that they know get attention from these groups.

    In the past different students from different schools have done little spray painting pranks on different schools over the years. Not really something like this but other things. Like pride for a different School. Something like spray painting​ MT Rainier football rules on highlines field or building’s. Which really just cost the district more money.

    Rate: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  13. MJ23GOAT says:

    US Flag & POTUS name = good.

    Posting photo saying “Fixed it” = bad

    Rate: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  14. No problems at Kennedy says:

    There really has been a Security guard out there 24 7…oh my gosh! $$$$$!!!

    Rate: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

    • Captain obvious says:

      I believe the security is already paid to patrol the school. There just focusing more attention to that area.

      Kind of like how the police are paid to patrol the city and focus on areas with a high crime rate.

      Rate: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

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