I never thought I’d write this post. But here we are. I have to write it, because I underestimated my high school class that graduated in 2009. One of my classmates Francisco died in January 2018, sadly, and he was a nice guy.
For context, a high school went viral in a bad way when its MAGA students went to protest in D.C. and were caught on video grinning at a Native American activist. Even with the full context, which involved the activist trying to keep another group from harassing the kids, these Covington kids still look awful.
You know what? None of the kids in my class went to a D.C. rally wearing hateful anti-immigrant hats. Our school had a healthy Jewish population, as well as many Hispanic students. I attended as one of a few Indian kids, and so on and so forth. While I’ve fallen out of touch with most of my classmates, they still act as decent people. It just took me until now to appreciate it.
Mind, I had a good high school experience, better than what most people have. While I’m a cynic about how pep rallies were mandatory and that no one in my senior English classes wanted to learn the material regarding Gender and Sexuality in Literature, my class was overall full of decent people. None of us as of this post have gone viral in a bad way and I hope that I don’t have to eat my words.
The good things my class did:
- Speak up in disgust when the characters we studied in lit class were adulterers and child abusers – I will remember this part forever. We were covering The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison’s tragic debut about how emotional and physical abuse breaks an innocent black girl’s spirit because she is “ugly”. One of my classmates got righteously furious when in the book Pecola’s mother hit her, and saying that was awful. I reminded her that we were still in the middle of the book, and the teacher tried to play Devil’s Advocate, but she was right. Another classmate said, “Not cool” when we saw Yeckl, a story about a married man carrying on an affair with a dance instructor while his wife was tending the apartment where they just moved.
- Raised money for micro-loan organizations – For AP Economics, our summer reading was Banker to the Poor. It detailed how Muhammad Yunnus founded Grameen Bank in Bangladesh to pay micro-loans. I read it while on family vacation, much to my family’s consternation, and was intrigued by the idea. In class, someone jokingly asked why couldn’t we take out a loan to start a business. But another classmate, Rafael, started a club where we’d raise money to
- Won Florida State Academic Team two years in a row – Academic Team or Quizbowl is like team Jeopardy. You answer trivia questions, getting extra points if you answer a Power Question early enough, and losing points if you answer incorrectly too early. I was decent at the literature questions, but for me I didn’t want to put in more work for something I was doing for fun. Two of my friends did study, however, and soon excelled against competitors. My proud moment was remembering Watership Down from a few words and getting a power, which led to us winning the Regionals tournament due to my knowing enough about the bonus questions.
- Spoke the truth on the grapevine when a cheating scandal occurred – I’m not going to spill the exact details, but basically there was a cheating scandal. The administration shamed the student who reported it because there was no direct evidence, but on academic team trips we spoke about it and I found out the truth. Much later on, the students involved in the cheating were busted for bringing marijuana on campus and had to leave discreetly. The grapevine also revealed this.
- Pitched in with messages of relief and kindness when a college counselor nearly died in a shooting – Mr. Frappier is the best counselor a student could have. He is a kind man, a good cook, and reassuring. In 2017, when he was in the Fort Lauderdale airport, a former soldier smuggled a gun into baggage claim and started firing it. Mr. Frappier’s backpack with his laptop took the shot that would have killed or paralyzed him. When he told the story on Facebook, we all flooded his comments with relief that he was okay. He’s still with us, and I am glad..
So yeah, Covington, you can do better. If my spoiled self could participate in a handful of good activities that balanced out the stresses of AP classes and exams, then your students can make more good out rather than adding your MAGA racism to the world. This was a school-sponsored event, so you could have stopped it. I am squinting and judging, while remembering Francisco Triana, who should be with us this year.