Alto Weekly Online Edition
Sept. 12, 2001, 5:35 p.m.
Anti-Palestinian graffiti found at Gunn High
School uses chance to talk about tolerance
by Jennifer Deitz Berry
Anti-Palestinian graffiti was found at Gunn High School written
in felt pen on a big cardboard box Tuesday morning, following the
terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C.
The vandal had written a message, using profanity, telling Palestinians
to "go home," said Gunn High School Principal, Scott Laurence. The
box had been set upright along the east wall of Spangenberg Auditorium,
early Tuesday morning. At 9 a.m., custodians spotted the box and
brought it inside.
"It was a misdirected backlash against a group of people," said
Laurence. "It's wrong."
The district has not determined who is responsible for the graffiti.
Laurence warned teachers to "watch closely" for students who might
respond to the tragedy with angry outbursts.
But staff also saw an opportunity to turn the negative incident
into something more positive. "It was a wonderful time for us, as
a learning institution, to teach about Pearl Harbor and the reaction
against the Japanese, and the best way to handle angry emotions
when you're in a really unsettling set of circumstances."
Tuesday was, of course, difficult for students and staff, as they
tried to process the events of the day. Laurence said he visited
40 to 50 classrooms in the first hour of school and saw people "experiencing
a wide range of emotions."
In most classrooms, students and teachers were watching TV, listening
to the radio or holding discussions. As the day went on, classrooms
almost systematically fell back into their usual routines, he said.
Even as the high school returns to "business as usual," teachers
are being asked to carefully monitor their students, who may be
struggling to cope with the tragedy.