life today and our children

  

This photo (which has been shown publicly on NBC10 ) started making the rounds on social media locally almost two days before the Great Valley School  District released the following statement:

(NOTE: This is the text of email  sent out last evening by GVSD and parents are all starting to chatter about how it happened two days ago and GVSD is just sending this out:)

(Below is text of district email)


“This School Messenger is to inform you of an incident that occurred on our campus yesterday. I want to make sure you have accurate information and dispel any rumors you may have heard about the incident.

There was an altercation between two male students in our high school. A single punch was thrown and one of those students was seriously hurt. The student was taken to the hospital by ambulance and was in serious condition. Today, the student’s  condition has improved and he was receptive to a visit by Mr. Flick, our high school principal. Our prayers are with the student and his family.

The health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority. The proper procedures and protocol were followed as outlined by School Board Policy 218. To dispel some rumors that have emerged, this was not a gang related situation nor was it a group beating of an individual. 

We ask your support in the following ways:

•    Talk frequently with your children about what they are hearing and seeing on the news, at school or on social media. 

•    Discuss with them the seriousness of spreading rumors or false information.

•    Encourage them to report any suspicious activity to a trusted adult at school, or to you. You may call your school administration directly.  

In the true spirit of Great Valley, students and faculty raised $450 today for the family of the student.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call my office or Mr. Flick at the High School. Thank you for your support and assistance in keeping our campus safe for everyone.”
Respectfully,

Dr. Alan J. Lonoconus
Superintendent of Schools
Great Valley School District



Ok. Deep breath.

This poor boy is 16. I am told that he and his family are new to this country? Is this how we, born of the land of the free, welcome new immigrants to our shores? Whose American Dream is this?

I find extraordinarily troublesome that Great Valley went around in circles and didn’t address this within hours of the incident happening. This is something that you need to as a district get out in front of . That gives the appearance of trying to deny this incident even happened for two days and this boy no matter how it happened could have died couldn’t he have?

On other Facebook pages there are parents talking about this quite a bit. Apparently this fight landed this boy into a coma and although he seems to be awake he’s on an oxygen tank and they’re waiting to see if there is brain damage and how would you like to be the mother? Sitting by your child’s bedside new to this country, and wondering what was going to happen?

Here is what NBC10 reported:

Chester County Teen Falls Into Coma After Punch in the Face Over Headphones

By Vince Lattanzio

….Selvin Cartagena was with a cousin and friend inside Great Valley High School around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday when the 17-year-old and his buddy got into an argument over headphones, the teen’s family said. The headphones, which belong to the friend, were supposedly damaged causing the argument.
Cartagena’s mother said the argument escalated to violence with her son being punched in the face. The boy fell unconscious after the assault and could not be waked. He was taken to Paoli Hospital and placed on a ventilator.

The teen, who arrived in the U.S. from Guatemala last year and speaks little English, remained in the coma until Thursday afternoon when he was able to open his eyes and talk some. It’s not clear if he suffered permanent brain damage.



I am hoping that a group like Latino Luncheon which meets in West Chester monthly will start a Go Fund Me page or something to raise funds for the family. This counts as a traumatic brain injury and as I have a friend who’s daughter is still recovering from one, I know that it takes a lot of therapy and a lot of doctors which equals a lot of money.

I think you can safely say that there are a lot of parents out there in the school district who are upset that this was kept from them for two days, then there are the other parents who were upset because they’ve been aware of this along with their children for two days and no action was taken immediately by the district publicly. And then (sadly) there are the parents who said what did eveyone expect from Great Valley School District. I totally understand that it might take a bit to get a proper statement out, but this should have been at least acknowledged to the families of the district more quickly.

Have they offered counseling at the high school? Can you imagine how upsetting this was for any teenager that witnessed it?


So the early media reports and parents say East Whiteland Police are investigating and so on? What does the Chester county District Attorney’s Office have to say about this? See that’s the other thing, there is another child involved – the one who I would say probably accidentally caused this. Unless it is proven that this other child has a history of fighting in school this is a horrible accident and how do we deal with that as a society?

If this was just a horrible accident, then I think we have to look to the mental health of the boy who threw  the punch. I would guess the child is horribly upset and he might be 16 but that  is still a child, so do you treat him like an adult or do you treat him like the kid that is? And how do you treat him? Do you get him into therapy and anger management or do you just lock kids up who do these things and throw away the key?  


I think you have to consider therapy and anger management and compassion all the way around. As a stepparent I can tell you I honestly would struggle with this if this happened to my child on either side of the incident. But as an adult I don’t want the lives of two kids ruined before they have lived their lives do you? 


Undoubtedly this is an isolated incident unless there are histories of fights going on in the high school that no one is aware of.  But that doesn’t mean as a community we shouldn’t discuss this and be proactive so it doesn’t happen again.

I am not a law-enforcement or educational professional so they will have to decide this. But I caution people that the court of public opinion is very important here. And have the responsibility as adults to show our kids the best paths in life possible. After all something like this could spark a stupid and  an ill advised  response from friends of these teens and their families so let’s come together and be proactive as a community, not reactive. Cool and thoughtful heads must prevail. 

So in my humble opinion that means you have to show them there are solutions to things in life other than using your fists or a weapon. And games and materialistic items shouldn’t have such a value that they translate into threatening human life. I don’t know how else to describe it. 

Violence only begets violence and somewhere along the way we have to hit the pause button as a society. And we also have to pay more attention, perhaps better attention to our kids. Being a teen or tween in today’s world is not easy. Emotions run high hormonally to begin with, setting any other influences aside.

I have been thinking about tweens and teens a lot recently. It wasn’t prompted by this incident it was prompted by the untimely death of a young woman who had battled depression and addiction issues. This girl had a family who was totally behind her recovery and supportive and yet the unthinkable happened. Then earlier this year there was the suicide  of the boy named Cayman.

It’s not easy being a kid today. I’m not saying it was all easy and no problems with any of us were growing up, but it seems today it’s a lot more intense for lack of a better description.

I see a lot of programs out there for very little kids to teach them not to bully and how to get along and how to talk to people, but once the kids hit tween and teen years I don’t hear about these things as much.  

Look I have a teenager I know it is like banging your head against the wall some days. They aren’t necessarily communicative and they think they know everything. But they don’t know everything and neither do we.  But we are all on this bus called life together, and I think we all need to make more of an effort to figure it out. 

And I think we need to do a little more than the school district (Great Valley) has done thus far. Like it or not I think there need to be more programs in the schools, and sponsored by school districts, churches, YMCAS and so on.  

Call them teen summits or whatever you want, but the organizations that have the ability to put these programs together with mental health professionals, law-enforcement, and someone need to get on the ball around here. And parents and kids should be required to go.  We need to facilitate more community conversations on this. We need to make sure that our kids have safe places to go to discuss problems. Maybe local PTAs and school booster associations could turn the focus to something like this. To me it has more value than pom-poms and  school spirit buttons.

From fist fights to cyber bullying to depression, additction, abuse, we need to talk about it and deal with it. TOGETHER.

If any go fund me or similar pages pop-up to help this boy and his family with his upcoming medical costs please feel free to leave the link in a comment below this post.

Thanks for stopping by and stay cool today it’s hot out there.

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