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The student news site of Smoky Hill High School

Smoky Now

The student news site of Smoky Hill High School

Smoky Now

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Hallway fights and how Smoky is solving it with the Restorative Justice Program

The strategies that come with the Restorative Justice program at Smoky may be helpful for the community
The Restorative Justice Program posters helps students acknowledge what to do with any conflict

As the first semester winds down fights continue to be an issue, but the school administrators have been addressing and fixing the problem. 

“The biggest thing that we’re doing this year is continuing what we started last year with the restorative justice program that we were implementing in school,” Dean Coordinator Monte Reynolds said, “Mr. Heller is running [Restorative Justice] this year, and Mr. Reed, was the restorative coordinator last year. So, I think that will be something that will be very helpful in helping kids find some strategies to use before they get into any type of altercation.”

The school is continuing to carry out the restorative justice program in hopes of minimizing the fights and handling conflict effectively.

Students who have gotten into fights discuss what they could have done differently before getting into a fight this school year.

“No, I guess talking to [the person I fought with],” Jeriah Baca (9) said.

According to Gitux Blog, “The statistic that articulates that almost 20% of U.S. high school students admitted to experiencing bullying within the school premises in 2017 offers solid evidence towards a pressing issue. It paints a vivid picture of the contemporary school environment, leading readers to ponder over the safety levels existing in the present-day education system.”

This may be the cause of many school fights and how students often feel like fighting can be the only solution to escape the ongoing problem.

Other students not involved in fights share their opinions on what they would do in a situation where a fight was happening.

“Personally I’m not really interested in fights, but a lot of other people like to chase it and instigate the fight,” Jacob Moore (10) said.

Reynolds also said, “School fights have probably always happened. But I think a lot of times, it’s students who are kind of backed into a corner and don’t have any other option or they feel like they don’t have any other option. And that’s why the big part of the restorative program is educating kids ahead of time so they have conflict resolution skills.”

Knowing that students feel like they have no other option, the school has hope that the restorative justice program will help educate students.

According to eSafety Commissioner, fight videos are making the problem worse, “The fighting can be violent and aggressive and filmed by those involved or people who are watching – often in the school playground. Sharing these recordings can lead to more violence or retaliation and sometimes encourages ongoing fighting.”

This trend of fighting at the beginning of the school year has been going on for a while now at Smoky. 

“Since I’ve been here at Smoky Hill, this has been my ninth year. We always seem to have fights at the very beginning of the year, generally, it usually calms down after the first few weeks. Toward the end of the year, we often have fights too,” Reynolds said, “The school assumes it might be unresolved issues from last year or things that happened over the summer but overall fights always happen at the beginning of the year.” 

Students going to court as a consequence of their first fight in high school could help them realize it’s not worth it and for students to keep in mind if they get into another fight there will be harsher consequences. 

“After I got in a fight in high school I had to go to court, but in middle school, I never had to go to court but now I do,” Baca said.

Other consequences result from the school itself.

“I got suspended for three days for just one of the fights I got into,” Baca said. 

Smoky has made some changes to help with the issue. The restorative justice program is one of these changes to help limit fights in the school setting.

Karmella Gordon is a sophomore in the Restorative Justice program.

“So, I was in the Restorative Justice program because I had a little bit of a record in middle school. When I came to high school, I was close to being expelled for it. So they added me to the program and the program is to learn how to almost essentially, work through conflicts, like any conflict, even things like bad grades,” Gordon said.

Assistant Principal Bruce Jones believes the Restorative Justice program works.

“It has been very effective, but we’re continuing to try to expand it building-wide between two years ago and last year we reduced the number of violent, aggressive behavior incidents in our school by 48%. And we also reduced our out-of-school suspensions by almost half,” Jones said.

Jones said there are a lot of different aspects to the program.

“A lot of it is just trying to navigate conflict in a different way by having conversations instead of resorting to violence and so those conversations are mediated by an adult. The first step is to have a pre-conference meeting with an adult with each individual person to talk about the conflict, get perspective, thinking about the background, and then there’s a formal or harm-harm repair meeting that happens to talk about the impact how each person was affected, what they can be accountable to and then agreements moving forward,” Jones said, “And agreements may not be that now our best friends but it may be just that we’re not going to treat each other in this negative way.” 

The restorative justice program at Smoky helps students who are involved in the fighting culture recognize their problems and gives them solutions for a better school environment.

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