Op-Ed: Hamden high students are being used as props
by The Albatross, who works at Hamden High.
Homecoming Week at Hamden High school should have been a week filled with school spirit leading up to the Homecoming Dance on Saturday night. Instead it was filled with fights and mayhem.
"The climate has shifted in three days," announced Principal Nadine Gannon at the Hamden High School faculty meeting on November 3. (No, Nadine. It hasn't changed at all.)
"On Monday [October 31], there was a fight at Panera's [parking lot]," she continued. "On Wednesday, there was a fight at Panera's and at Wood'n'Tap. The fights involving Hamden students had adult involvement." Rumor has it that a father and son showed up to fight students who were picking on the man's younger son.
It is in these parking lots where many student fights occur. Hamden High School is located on Dixwell Avenue. To the left of the building is the Hamden Plaza where Panera's and Wood'n'Tap are. Students walk through this parking lot when school lets out. One of Tuesday's fights began as a verbal altercation among a group of girls on the first floor of the B wing of the school. According to a source who wishes to remain anonymous, Assistant Principal Tegan Willis was standing there, eating soup. "Those are not my students," she said, and went back to her office. The verbal argument got physical when the girls left the building and went to the Plaza's parking lot.
On Wednesday afternoon, a fight erupted at Villano Park in the Newhall section of Hamden. Six girls from HCLC, Hamden's alternative school, enraged that another girl had been talking to someone's boyfriend, beat her mercilessly and stomped on her head. They knocked her unconscious. A gleeful mob gathered to watch.
"Those weren't our students," Gannon said. (Yes, they were, Nadine. They were Hamden High students who were transferred to HCLC.)
The mayhem continued on Thursday, November 3, when the passing bells were held during first period. Scott Trauner, the assistant principal, came on the intercom to announce that "a student was in distress."
Trauner and Gannon are not skilled at stopping students. They let an angry and aggressive young man in the building. Gannon told teachers that the student was supposed to have been suspended. "We tried to get the student out of the building," she said. Instead, the student walked all the way down the A wing hall, and busted his way into the main office. The office staff was forced to hide.
Three police officers came. They were not allowed to touch the student. "It took awhile," Gannon said. "But the situation was defused. I was not attacked."
No mainstream media outlet covered any of these problems. Not WTNH. Not the New Haven Register. Not the New Haven Independent. No one. Many similar stories are buried each year.
Early Friday morning was a proud moment for Nadine, Scott, and Superintendent of Schools Gary Highsmith. WTNH's Gil Simmons of "Gil on the Go" appeared at the high school and made a school that has been going straight to hell seem like a paradise. Nadine gave Gil a Hamden High t-shirt. "We are off to a strong start," she said. "We are getting back to our traditions." (This is so stupendously bogus, Nadine. Have you been drinking?") Teachers loyal to Nadine hovered in the background, rictus grins on their faces. Students in the band played a tune and a line of cheerleaders shook their pom-poms. Everyone played their parts beautifully.
Shame on Gary, Nadine, and Scott for using those kids as props.