GHS students come to terms with violence

In the aftermath of the massacre in a Colorado high school, students at Gilroy High are coping with the tragedy by sending messages of hope to the survivors and the families of those killed.
On Friday, students gathered around the flagpole to pray for the community of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., where last week’s blood bath left 15 dead.
On Monday, Community of Caring at GHS put out posters for students to sign for the residents of Littleton, and then let 15 balloons go in memory of the dead.
“I think it’s a good thing to do because it lets them know that people care,” said senior Juanita Hernandez.
‘Hernandez said that if not enough students signed, she would personally go out and solicit them.
“I believe in this,” she said.”It’s a good idea.” ‘Shortly after the shooting, the school organized a session in the library for students to attend if they were especially distraught. About a dozen students showed up, according ‘to counselor Frank Valadez, but students said the topic has been discussed in many classes. Much of the interest surrounding the case has centered on the fact that the two students, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, were outcasts, ,,.members of a death-obsessed group labeled -the”Trench Coat Mafia.”
:Students at schools around the nation share :that status, including at Gilroy High, where an :eclectic group of teens endures the taunts and :jibes of their peers for being”different,” they .say.
-“People always just give you looks and stuff :yell stuff and call me fag and throw stuff,” said :Sophomore Eric Godoy, who sometimes wears eyeliner to school.”We can handle it.”
-Some other students say they have no problem with the differences.
“They’re nice kids,” Hernandez said.”They’re just different. They’re not violent or anything.”
The students’ outcast positions have been established for years, according to Godoy.
“This has been going on since way before we got here,” he said.”We’re just a mixture of peo-
Ole and have different views.” nly one of the students, junior Matt Hawkins, wears a trench coat, which he said he has been doing for years. Hawkins said he was -called into the discipline office last week, and sehool officials recommended he not wear the coat for his own safety. He has chosen other wise.
Vice Principal Jon Serigstad did not comment on Hawkins’ case, but said that school officials are always conscious of what students wear.
“Whereas their friends might know what they’re about, some stranger might not,” he said.
While fingers have pointed at Klebold and Harris’ style of dress, music and the Internet as reasons for the school rampage, students at Gilroy High said that it is none of those things, and that no one group of students fits the type that would be likely to commit such acts.
“You can’t blame everything on what we listen to or watch,” said freshman MaryAnn Bahena.
Some students say they have heard that others may be fixated on weapons, but do not believe those students pose a threat.
“I know some people that are into guns, but I don’t think they would kill anybody,” Godoy said.”We’ve had a stabbing here, and it wasn’t one of us.”
That stabbing occurred four years ago, when 15-year-old Carlos Vaca got in the middleof a gang fight and was killed. But in 1993, 15-year-old Jason Ryals was shot in the abdomen with a semiautomatic pistol by a classmate that had been the victim of other students’ taunts and bullying. Ryals survived the attack.
According to Valadez, it’s not necessarily how students dress or that they are part of an outcast group, but their attitude that should serve as a warning sign for violent behavior.
“The kids that worry me are the very, very bright kids who are not intimidated by authority and feel they have all the answers the kids you try to reach and who feel they are above you,” he said.”They’re just a scary few.” Misconceptions contribute to the students’ alienation, but for the most part, they are good students, many of whom get straight A’s, according to Bahena.
“They think we’re all Satan worhsippers,” she said.”We’re not. We try to express ourselves in a manner that we’d like and not in the way everyone else does.”

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