UC High Should Build a More Positive Community

Zachary Grover, Editor-in-Chief

The UC High community is strained, to put it mildly. All you have to do is pay attention around campus to see that much. Whether it be physical altercations, a decrease in school pride, or the use of hurtful words (which some people just might see as “part of high school” when a large group of teenagers is together), one thing is clear; the sense of community on campus needs to be improved.

As outlined in the Letter to the Editor from Issue Three of the Commander, the use of slurs has been seen as a major problem on campus, making many students uncomfortable. Black Student Union President Jabze Solomon is working with students, teachers and administration to redefine UC High’s hate speech policy. “Me and my friend Nae were noticing an increase in racial, homophobic, misogynistic, etc. slurs being used on campus and decided it was time for the students to do something. The current hate speech policy doesn’t really outline specifics like what counts as a slur or hate speech or the measures taken if a student is caught using this language. Our goal is to come up with a slur and hate speech policy that will help make UC a true ‘no place for hate.’ School is a place for students to thrive educationally and socially and that is quite difficult to do if students and staff are using hate speech on a day-to-day basis,” Solomon said.

Some people may say teenagers will just speak how they want to, but unfortunately, the use of slurs is not the only problem plaguing UC High at the moment. There seems to be an alarming absence of respect for fellow students, something that is detrimental to the community and culture of UC High.

Vice Principal Antwon Lincoln attributed this seeming lack of school culture to the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally, students come in and are shown an example of what a great school community should look like by the upperclassmen. “Since 2019, that community has stopped,” Lincoln said. Lincoln also explained that this is the freshmen and sophomores’ first year on campus, so they have missed out on two years of events that have helped to build community at school in the past. Furthermore, the seniors haven’t had the opportunity to learn how to lead such events. So how do we fix the situation and build community? “It’s going to take little events [like sporting events or dances] to dawn on the underclassmen and have them say ‘This is what high school is supposed to be like,’” said Lincoln.

Junior Nae Townsend believes that a focus on gratitude by everyone on campus will lead to the betterment of school culture. “A lot of our staff and students spend time on events for us to enjoy and I feel they deserve a lot more recognition than they get. Not only that, but gratitude is a great way to make people feel good and spread joy,” Townsend said. Show some gratitude to the student that held the door for you, the lunch staff, custodial crew, security personnel, and anyone else that makes your day a little better and watch happiness spread.

Principal Mike Paredes issued a challenge to the upperclassmen, to be the change we want to see. “This is an opportunity to create some legacy [at UC High]. How can you leave this school a better place than when you got here? I know it’s tough; I can see the frustration on some of the seniors’ faces remembering how [high school] used to be,” he said.

If you look around campus, there are some positive signs that we are beginning to turn a collective corner. “It’s all about energy,” Paredes said. We are all beginning to feel such energy again around campus with excitement surrounding the spring formal, the raucous atmosphere at events like the Senior vs. Staff basketball game, and the beginning of spring sports around campus. “Let’s end the year on a positive note so that the class of 2022 can say ‘we left a legacy on campus,’ and the class of 2023 can pick up that baton and carry the rest of the student body forward to a culture that feels even better than what we had prior to COVID,” Paredes said.

Be kind and respectful to your fellow students and staff, and bring positive energy to make UC High a better place. These four years are what you make of them, and the community and culture on campus is not going to change if we all don’t put in effort to make it do so. “Win the Day” is a fun little catchphrase that is normally followed by a little smile but let’s take it to heart. Change doesn’t happen overnight and it starts with winning each and every day to make small positive changes to create the vision we want to see for UC High.