My name is Chloe Sorensen, and I'm the sophomore class president at Gunn High School. Throughout my first year and a half at Gunn, I have dealt with more than my fair share of depressed friends. Whether we like it or not, depression and other mental illnesses are all around us. This became increasingly apparent to me as I watched the majority of my closest friends admit to depression, suicidal thoughts, or self-harm.
But before you jump to conclusions, I'd like to tell you one thing: It's not Gunn's fault. Sure, school stress can add to people's problems. But in the case of all of my friends, it was much more than that.
When these tragedies occur, many parents are quick to make broad assumptions. This is unfair to the victim and their family, and it hurts many more people than you may realize. If there is anything I have learned during my time at Gunn, it's that each and every person you meet is fighting their own battle. At the end of the day, nobody knows what is going through somebody's mind except for that person themself. This is why I am so tired of watching everybody blame these tragedies on the school.
I know that many of you are looking for someone to blame because this is a senseless tragedy that nobody will ever be able to fully understand. But we all need to take a step back: Gunn High School is not the only thing in these kids lives. They have issues with friends. They have issues with family. A lot of them struggle with depression, and even when they seek help, it isn't always enough.
As a kid who walks through those halls every day, and interacts with these kids face to face, I feel like I have the right to say that you are not seeing the whole picture. There is so much you cannot see from the outside: I have had teachers call me, email me, pull me aside, hug me, and cry with me. Gunn High School is a community, and it's a community that I am proud to be a part of. And when people attack this community, and say that it's not good enough, or that we aren't trying, it hurts.
When I walk through the halls, I see a collection of individuals who are all trying their best. We do not understand these tragedies any more than you do. It hurts us, and it hurts us bad. But for many of us, it hurts us even more to see people from the outside who turn against us rather than standing with us.
By blaming the school, you make the school more of a problem. What effect do you think it has when people constantly claim that Gunn staff and guidance is incompetent? It makes kids even LESS likely to seek help I've seen it firsthand. When we send negativity out into the world, we get negativity back. So instead of finding people to blame, find people to support. Support the school. Support the staff. And most of all, support your kids. They need it more than you know. Thank you.
Chloe Sorensen spoke to the Board of Education on Jan. 27.