GREAT BARRINGTON — "I don't feel safe in these halls."
That remark by student Tristan Alston came during an early morning assembly at Monument Mountain Regional High School on Tuesday to address the recent incident over racist threats of violence at the school.
Alston said the school needs to take a stronger stand on school safety.
It's been a tumultuous week in the small high school of 550 students. On September 23, a player on the high school football player "took a knee" during the national anthem as part of a national protest movement against the police killings of African-Americans over the past few years. The next Monday a student in the high school made threats to "lynch" the player and "use his body for target practice."
Principal Marianne Young confirmed to The Eagle on Monday that disciplinary action had been taken against the student who made the threat. She declined to say what steps had been taken, citing the privacy of the student under Massachusetts law.
Students spoke for the majority of the 45-minute assembly. Teddy Michaels, the Student Senate President, said that he believed that positive change was on the horizon — if the students and faculty were willing to make the effort.
"We have the power to make this school what we want it to be," Michaels said.
Anna-Lucia Boorady-Bloom echoed that sentiment. She said that the task of making positive change couldn't be solely that of the faculty and administration. All of the student body needs to have a role, Boorady-Bloom said, and older students need to take a role commensurate with their age and status in the school.
"We seniors are the oldest," she said. "So we have a greater responsibility."
Alston echoed the hope for a better school, but cautioned his fellow students and the faculty that the situation had to continue to be taken seriously after the controversy dies down. Alston said that in his experience racism has been a pervasive issue at the school. He said it was a shame that the media attention around the latest incident seemed to be the reason for the assembly and the attention to the issue.
Alston conceded that for many students racist threats are not an issue. But that shouldn't make a difference, he said.
"84 percent of you can walk these halls without worrying," he said. "The other 16 percent can't."