Palo Alto Weekly Online Edition

Uploaded: Wednesday, 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.






Palo Alto Online
© 2000 Palo Alto Online.