Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Garfield Hazing Has Principal Upset

Update 2:  From SPS:
We have zero tolerance for bullying, hazing and intimidation, and we take it very seriously.
·         We are continuing to investigate this incident.
·         We are in the process of determining what type of disciplinary action is warranted for those students who were involved.

Update 1: Text of information on hazing on the front page of the Garfield webpage.

1.In addition to the district disciplinary suspension, hazing incidents will be
considered criminal offenses and treated as such.
2.Hazing incidents will be reported to ALL college school applications,
career and/or work references.

Seems clear to me.

End of update.
Principal Ted Howard of Garfield apparently got wind of hazing happening off-campus and went to inspect.  He was not happy with what he found.

He sent this note to parents (red mine): 

Do you know where your son or daughter is at tonight? I spent the afternoon with Officer Radford and many other officers walking through the Arboretum. One hundred or more Garfield students were participating in hazing incidents, drinking hard alcohol and beer. Students were being paddled, had on diapers, eggs were being thrown at students and shoe polish was all over their body. As students ran and scattered from the scene they caused at least one, maybe more car accidents due to running in front of cars. I was also called a "Nigger" by a student and many other derogatory names.

As I email you tonight I asked the question do you know where your son or daughter is at? I ask that question because I want you to know that we all have a responsibility to keep our kids safe. We all work hard to make sure they learn life lessons and make better decisions. Tonight some of our students didn't make good decisions. If students were there to watch, cause harm to another student or behave inappropriately this impacts the entire GHS community and puts the GHS community in a negative light.

I am asked every year how we will address hazing. Every year we work really hard to teach our students about respect, how to honor each other's cultures, and to have empathy. I am asking you tonight to continue that conversation with your son or daughter. We are a community, a community that grows together and learns together. Please have a conversation with your son and daughter about decisions, how they can and will impact people's lives.

Thank you for your time.

I note that he says this kind of behavior puts Garfield in a bad light.  Well, yes and no because I believe that this may be happening - in a low-level way - at many schools.  That students thought - because they were off-campus - that no one would know, it didn't matter and that some of them could turn on their principal - was terribly wrong.  But this is a small group of students and I know it is not indicative of the Garfield student body as a whole.

That Mr. Howard took it seriously enough to gather police officers, check it out and confront students speaks volumes about how much he cares.  

It is unclear if this was an athletic group, a club, seniors with freshman but it is truly disturbing. I cannot believe that a student would call a principal that kind of name.

I also received some tweets that word has gotten around.

I hope, truly hope, that there are some real discussions at Garfield (and all the middle and high schools) about this.  There is no place for hazing. 

Hazing has to stop at both the high school, college and athletic levels. (A young man, a member of a college marching band, died from being hazed on a bus just in the last couple of years. There are now at least three people charged with his death and it appears the university had knowledge of hazing that occurred.)

What should happen?

Should there be a big all-school assembly?  Maybe so and maybe a police officer can explain that if you get caught doing certain things, they ARE against the law.  Maybe explain the parameters of "assault."

 If Mr. Howard finds out this was associated with a team or club, should he disband it immediately (because obviously, leaders at the top decided this was a good idea). I'd love to know what parents thought when their children came home with shoe polish on.

And, what should the district do (if anything?)


Mercermom said...

According to my son (who wasn't present, if only because of an athletic practice), the word going around is that the person or people shouting derogatory names were not GHS students. That may be a convenient way to try to shift blame; however, we've talked to him about how if you're part of a big, loose gathering at which some kids are doing unlawful or inappropriate things, and most of the kids are wearing GHS clothes, that's what GHS students will be known for.

We're concerned about what appears to be a standing GHS Friday afternoon party culture. We really appreciate Principal Howard's willingness to go out into the community to try to intervene in what is a school-related activity, in as much as it was likely attended by kids who planned to continue on to the football game and Homecoming Dance.

Catherine said...

I am going to take issue with the sentence: "Hazing has to stop at both the high school, college and athletic levels. " I believe strongly that the sentence should simply read "Hazing has to stop." Your sentence implies that at junior high, or work places, or parties, or homes, or maybe other places, that hazing might be okay.

I believe that's not what you mean... but that's not how it reads.

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable, and yet...

Mr. Howard's call to parents to "know where your kids are" reminds me of this:

At the high school (in another state) where my older two graduated, the parents were asked to sign a letter every year, stating that we would not allow parties at our houses where alcohol was served, and that we also would not allow our kids to attend parties at the homes of their friends without knowing that an adult was going to be present (as in, calling to verify).

It made such a difference. We as parents felt more connected to each other in this cause, and it made it easier to call people we didn't necessarily know and verify. It even instilled that necessary sense of obligation that we sometimes need to do the right thing.

I wish we were signing this at the high school our kids are attending now.

3rd time around

Catherine said...

I would like to add KUDOS, high-fives and whatever other encouragement I can to the principal for GOING OUT THERE and looking for the issues. I think I'll drop a gift card by to help fund this kind of above and beyond effort.

Anonymous said...

I don't think 100 kids is a small number at all. I'd also like to know what group of kids this was. Were they APP students? Team members? A club?

I don't buy it that non-Garfield students were the ones calling Mr. Howard names. It wouldn't be the first time kids caught in a terrible light would blame outsiders.

And shoe polish? As in blackface? Holy smokes, Batman!

Melissa, are you going to be investigating this further? I hope someone is-this deserves a much brighter light than even this blog can provide.


Po3 said...


And I also agree 100 is not a small group, it's almost 10% of the student population.

Kudos to Principal Howard for sending out this email.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, I am going further with my investigation. As I said, tweets went out so it is out there in the world.

What Mr. Howard's first words reminded me of (and I'm dating myself here) was an old end-of-broadcast-day voice that would say, "It's 10 pm. Do you know where your children are?"

Eric B said...

Good job to Mr. Howard. He certainly seems to want to get to the bottom of who the students are. I'm surprised that they were running around the Arboretum in daylight doing stupid stuff, but I guess that shows that they thought they wouldn't get caught.

I would vote for an all-school assembly with the cop--that sounds like a great idea. I'm conflicted about disbanding clubs and especially sports teams. On the one hand, if it was a single group, they need to be punished. On the other, what about anyone in that group that did not participate in the hazing? Certainly, the ringleaders need some serious consequences.

Because Mr. Howard is being so pro-active, I don't think the District needs to do much other than alert other principals to the situation so they can keep an eye out and possibly send their own letters home.

Po3 said...

I also find it (sadly) ironic that the Center School was forced to stop its gender/race class and moved its teacher across town...

Jet City mom said...

Hazing has been going on at area high schools and middle schools for decades.
Im shocked by parents who think that it is a new thing.
While off campus group events may get the attention, don't let it distract us from the bullying that occurs in the halls & on school buses, sometimes aided & abetted by adults either looking the other way or by actually joining in.

Anonymous said...

Hazing does occur at other high schools. My son, who goes to a private high school, observed Roosevelt High School students hazing other students at Ravenna Park. Kudos to the Garfield principal for seeking it out and doing something about it.


Anonymous said...

They don't mess around at Garfield. You break the rules, you pay the consequences. You do stupid stuff in public that might brings shame upon your school, you're going to pay for it. Every year, some push the envelope, and every year, some get busted and made examples of. This was a classic example of nipping a problem in the bud and using it as a teachable moment. Students caught with alcohol were suspended. Others were given varying degrees of discipline based on their deeds.

I couldn't be happier with how Ted Howard handled the situation. His frustration and anger were notably and admirably restrained in his e-mail to parents. Truly professional, firm, tough, and no BS. Many kudos to Ted Howard.


Anonymous said...

Hazing has been going on forever and at Garfield as at other high schools it is considered a sign of freshman popularity and acceptance that they "get to" participate in hazing. I was surprised to learn this a number of years ago.

Mr. Howard can and should set behavior standards, however when it gets down to it, the school has no legal recourse to make individual students stop the practice offsite. The Seattle police will have to be the enforcers (underage drinking etc.)

If it is a school-sponsored club doing the hazing, it may be possible to put more teeth behind school action on the matter. But don't count out that some parent, upset that their "baby" is being denied the opportunity to take part in a school activity, will file a lawsuit against the school or district. That's the way of the world. Can't "make" kids adhere to public school code if family undermines school message. A situation that is plenty prevalent at Garfield and all high schools for that matter. The hazing tradition runs deep among some alums.

Been There

Anonymous said...

Jet City Mom is right. It goes on all over, in many forms. Fortunately this time, Ted Howard was determined to be proactive, heard rumors and thus presumed some kids would challenge the rules, and wasn't willing to give the benefit of the doubt and be caught flat-footed.

Assemblies? By this age I'm not sure how effective they'd be although I suppose it couldn't hurt. But the rules are clearly laid out for students during orientation, and burned into their brains by teachers, counselors and coaches. They know they aren't supposed to drink or do drugs, bully, haze, the dangers, the penalties, etc. These were envelope pushers we've all seen and known in our lifetimes, who just have to learn life's lessons the hard way, as some Garfield kids are doing right now.

@Appalled: Were they APP students? A team? A club? What does it matter?


NW parent said...

I appreciate the principal's proactive stance on this, doing what he can on campus, and then squarely putting this in the court of parents. If incidents like this are happening regularly, police should be called in and anyone committing a crime should face arrest. Some of these hazing incidents get into beating people up, making students fight for an audience, etc. It's time these students learn that some of their behavior constitutes assault and that there are consequences.

mirmac1 said...

Thank you Mr Howard!!

All principals and building staff must take bullying seriously. Bully prevention is a year-long effort, and must be implemented at the very start of the year to set the tone of ZERO tolerance.

Madison had a great program last year, supported by staff and the PTSA. I hope it continues this year.

Anonymous said...

Boy, this web site is continuing to scare me. First the real possibility that there will be 2000 kids in our high schools and now hazing as a regular practice.

To someone who asked why it matters which group of kids it was, it does to me. Some groups I can be pretty certain my child won't be a part of and thus, the hazing won't affect them personally. I think it's horrific, of course, but my decision making about my own child would be different, if say, the football players and cheerleaders were the hazing group than if it were the art club.

It doesn't change my opposition to the hazing, but it does influence whether it's relevant to our personal experience.


Anonymous said...

You had another thread on hazing, didn't you? And didn't we end up getting a lot of defenders of hazing?


Melissa Westbrook said...

ZB, I don't recall that but it's been hundreds of threads. I defy someone to tell me this is okay. No matter if no one gets "hurt", the ramped up atmosphere that could escalate behaviors is not good.

And, I recall boys from my high school having scars (psychic and physical) from freshman hazing (all under the watchful eyes of teachers). Very weird.

Johnny Calcagno said...

Past posts on Froshing/Hazing

From 2011 (The West Seattle Blog blog post that it is based on, and its comments, are well worth reading)

From 2012

Anonymous said...

I can’t necessarily address the prevention of hazing, but I can address the prevention of underage drinking.

First of all, underage drinking prevention needs to start in middle school. The average high school student who drinks regularly, and often heavily, starts drinking by freshman year.

As Mr. Howard stated, parents need to know where their kids are whom they are with. This kind of “monitoring” needs to start in middle school – or as soon as your children start hanging out with friends without your or other parent’s supervision. If monitoring isn’t established from the get go as “this is just how our family does things” it will be hard to start in high school.

Parents should find out if their middle school offers evidence-based substance abuse prevention curriculum such as Life Skills Training. Not all Seattle middle schools teach kids the skills that they need to avoid underage drinking.

Police need to be called by people who see kids drinking in public places. Are there no other people in the Arboretum and other parks when kids are drinking? No witnesses had a cell phone to call 911? This is a community problem and all community members have a role to play.

If police don’t show up, community members need to make clear to Seattle Police and Seattle policy makers/leaders that cracking down on large underage drinking parties is expected. (Before anyone accuses me of wanting to lock kids up -- Kids who are busted for underage drinking are not put in jail, they aren’t even brought to the police precinct. They don’t get a criminal record – they are referred to a "diversion" program that will require that they get “alcohol education” or are referred to substance abuse treatment, if needed.)

Though there are many more things we can do to prevent underage drinking, I will just add one more thing. Get involved with a community coalition. Community coalitions with the mission of preventing underage drinking and drug use are located in Central Seattle (Seattle Neighborhood Group), South and Southwest Seattle (Neighborhood House), Northwest Seattle (Ballard High School), and Northeast Seattle (Children’s Hospital). Full disclosure: I work for the one in NE Seattle. You can check out our website at www.PreventionWorksInSeattle.org.

Inga Manskopf

Melissa Westbrook said...

Inga is a tireless advocate against underaged drinking. Think about asking her group to speak at your middle or high school to parents OR teens.

"Police need to be called by people who see kids drinking in public places. Are there no other people in the Arboretum and other parks when kids are drinking? No witnesses had a cell phone to call 911? This is a community problem and all community members have a role to play."

Absolutely. When did we abdicate our role as adults? No one is saying go in and break it up yourself. But See Something? Say Something. Let kids know adults are watching.

I do this in my neighborhood with Roosevelt kids. If they throw trash down, I ask them to pick it up. They are usually mystified or shocked. I tell them I live here and I would not throw trash in their neighborhood and please respect mine. I do it with a smile. They are usually good-natured about it.

I don't know why adults are so afraid of teens but even if you are, you have a cell phone? Use it.

mirmac1 said...

I had a "teaching moment" with my child today about this incident. I pointed out how, once again, building staff cannot be expected to parent these children.

The "Student Rights and Responsibilities" is quite clear on the subject of hazing (or I prefer the term bullying). With regards to the very important matter of disproportionality, that is when adults use sound judgement and training to discern their own biases and adjust their reactions accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Who do you call? It's not an emergency, right? And, how can you be sure the kids are underage? These days, 25 year olds look like teenagers to me. Do you talk to them and ask them how old they are?

We've seen drinking at Magnuson, usually at dusk, but I've never been sure what to do, though I would like to do something.

I feel like fear of being an old curmudgeon lets us abdicate our responsibility to children who are just not ready to take responsibility themselves and I would like to develop a bit more of a curmudgeonly attitude.


Anonymous said...

Ah, it was the WS blog thread I remembered, with the defenders of hazing.


Anonymous said...


There is a non-emergency SPD number one can call. It's 625-5011. Also, per the Seattle Parks Dep. website:

The Park Code prohibits liquor in our parks and facilities unless you have received permission to serve it. The State Liquor Act and Criminal Code covers all of our facilities regarding alcohol consumption. This statute allows alcohol to be served under certain circumstances with the permission of Seattle Parks and Recreation.

~ Keep kids safe

Anonymous said...

Zb. Call 911. Tell them you saw drinking, perhaps underage, in a public park. As a community it is our job to report, not to figure out all the details. And who cares if you call and they don't consider it an emergency. Say sorry and move on.

Anonymous said...

You know Melissa, until these students' parents don't care where their students are and what they are doing, how they look like after they get home, etc., we, as the community can not really do a lot in this matter. For example I walk my dog every day in different parks all over the city and I see different things, but I would never ever tell anything to these teens who are drinking and acting totally out of control there because I am already scared just to be in a close proximity with them. And I am afraid to call the police also because they could come after me with no problem.They are a group of teens, and I am alone most of the times...
SPS mom

Anonymous said...

I don't remember even knowing what hazing was in HS. I played football and hoops and nothing. I was the mid seventies when everything was changing. Even frats and sororities were close to dying when I went to college.
Maybe it was the all the marijuana. I don't think stoners go in for weird stuff like hazing and calling people nasty names.
And in the Arboretum no less. Perhaps the holiest place in our city. For shame.


Melissa Westbrook said...

SPS Mom, I disagree.

I'm old but when I was growing up, every adult WAS an adult. I would no more act out in front of a stranger than my mother. I was in a small town and yes, if someone saw something, they'd call my mom (well, not my mom, I was a good girl).

Kids need to know that adults will NOT turn the other way and ignore it.

How would the teens know it was you who called? You wait until you are in your car or out of sight.

Anonymous said...

One more question: why anybody thinks that the suspension from school would be any kind of punishment for these students? I think it is actually good for them, they can be out of school with a reason and do more crazy things while on the streets and in parks instead. I would rather have them suspended from their own classes but order them to be in PE class or in a Library all day for example so they would need to do some (hard) WORK instead...
SPS mom

Jet City mom said...

*has been going on forever and at Garfield as at other high schools it is considered a sign of freshman popularity and acceptance that they "get to" participate in hazing.*


My child who attended Garfield didn't participate as a freshman, she did participate as a senior.
I had impression that it was sports related.

According to her, they " kidnapped" some freshmen & made them jump in Lake Washington. ( this was in June). The seniors then jumped in with them, then bought them ice cream. There wasn't any drinking involved & my impression was it was an excuse to be silly. It was apparently well known what was planned as my D said kids were approaching her and asking if they could come.
I myself did not consider that to be " hazing".

Incidentally- these kids are not troublemakers in anyway, or " popular" the way that the cheerleaders & athletes were popular at my suburban school. They were more the Key club kids/geeks.

I would not be surprised however, if each " group" at the various high schools has their own version of hazing, as requiring students to be humiliated sounds disturbing, and a case of some students feeling the need to push the envelope.

Students look for a " rite of passage" as they transition.
If we do not provide something that is meaningful, as the outdoor environmental program that used to be at Garfield, but was open to all ( it was called Post- is it still there? It was through the Mountaineers), if we don't allow them to develop their own ritual with our guidance-they will do so without it.

Jet City mom said...

I also applaud THIi for contacting community police officers and confronting the students- we know too well that isn't always the case with Seattle district administration and lawbreakers.

Anonymous said...

As a staff member for many years at Garfield this issue continues to worsen each year. What the public and parents don't see is the planning and lying that go into making an event such as the one last Friday happen. Kids think it is cool - and why is that? Don't even start with "boys will be boys" or anything about "no harm" or "kids wanted to join" - it doesn't matter. We almost lost a student two years ago from this harmless fun. At some point some kid is going to drink too much, drive or swim, and kill him/herself or another person.

We have all made bad decisions in our lives and I am no exception to that. But as an adult, an educator, a parent, there are things that cross the line and what happened last Friday went way over that line. Thank goodness that we have a principal who cares enough to go out there and look for our kids. I have heard from angry parents saying that Ted should keep his job ON campus - what kids do off campus is their own business. Really? And the students who told their parents "I was there but doing nothing wrong." That isn't possible. Being there was wrong - it was set up as a kegger with hazing - admit it to your parents and learn from it. Quit blaming the principal for getting caught.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Jet City, that sounds a lot like an excuse. "Rite of passage"? Isn't that being a newbie and then becoming a master?

Make them do the grunt work or unfun parts of the activity but try to cause them pain? Nope.

Jet City mom said...

You are purposely misunderstanding what i am saying.
Kids are looking for a challenge. A physical challenge, which can also be a mental challenge.
Post was an organization which demanded that students dig deep, to test their own skills, but we dont provide that opportunity anymore it sounds like.
Not everyone wants to compete academically or athletically in front of the community, some kids are more private, but they still need that challenge.

It doesn't take a phd to notice that that there is a drive to push the limits, just look at the various national tragedies which occur when college students come up with things on their own.
But any good parent ( or animal trainer) knows that you dont leave a void. You provide them with an acceptable substitute.
For instance my daughter chose to travel through a developing country on her own for five months after high school ( after she had worked for six months to earn the money to do so)
Her boyfriend earned his eagle scout & as part of his final project, summited Mt Rainier.
They had rites of passage that were meaningful to them, but what do these other kids have?
Are we helping them find a substitute that is more socially acceptable?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Jet City, don't infer motive. I'm not purposely doing anything. You said: "Students look for a "rite of passage" as they transition."

I'm saying I'm good with idea but maybe not the execution. Why do you believe they want a physical "challenge?" Why would that be?

The things you list are TOTALLy different from hazing.

Garfield '12 said...

Former Garfield student here - a few things to add:

- Hazing has been going on for a long time at Garfield. It has substantially decreased on-campus, but off-campus is much harder to stop (for obvious reasons).

- This party was surely not just one group or one club, it was a mixture of people from all over.

- The derogatory name-calling was never reported as having come from a white student. I think it's important to mention that. Obviously it's never okay in any circumstances, but I don't think there is a racism problem at Garfield.

- In my mind (and in the minds of many Garfield students), there is a significant difference between hazing with alcohol, paddling, etc., and hazing that Jet City mom describes. I find the second instance acceptable (provided there is no peer pressure involved). I don't think anybody finds the first one okay.

- Until the "culture of silence" is stopped and until all parents buy into the fact that that first kind of hazing is unacceptable, this is going to get nowhere. It just takes one group of parents to think it's okay to get the snowball rolling.

mirmac1 said...

"Maybe it was all the marijuana..."

Hah, Disgusted, thanks for the laugh of the evening. : )

We were in school around the same time in the 70's. There was a "hazing" at our school if you were picked for drill team, which meant you were "kidnapped" in your pjs (robes of course) for breakfast. Those were the quaint good ole days.

mirmac1 said...

repost before it's deleted (important staff viewpoint:

"As a staff member for many years at Garfield this issue continues to worsen each year. What the public and parents don't see is the planning and lying that go into making an event such as the one last Friday happen. Kids think it is cool - and why is that? Don't even start with "boys will be boys" or anything about "no harm" or "kids wanted to join" - it doesn't matter. We almost lost a student two years ago from this harmless fun. At some point some kid is going to drink too much, drive or swim, and kill him/herself or another person.

We have all made bad decisions in our lives and I am no exception to that. But as an adult, an educator, a parent, there are things that cross the line and what happened last Friday went way over that line. Thank goodness that we have a principal who cares enough to go out there and look for our kids. I have heard from angry parents saying that Ted should keep his job ON campus - what kids do off campus is their own business. Really? And the students who told their parents "I was there but doing nothing wrong." That isn't possible. Being there was wrong - it was set up as a kegger with hazing - admit it to your parents and learn from it. Quit blaming the principal for getting caught."

Anonymous said...

Garfield hazing makes the Daily Troll.



Anonymous said...

Wow, who knew that this had been going on for years and that so many people knew about it? That's very disconcerting! Although, according to the police, they've been TRYING to get kids to press charges without success.

I think Garfield's response is a good one. This SHOULD lead to criminal charges and reports on college applications. I'm concerned though, with comments here and elsewhere that it's not all that bad...

WSDWG, zb really took the words out of my mouth-I want to know what groups were involved because my kid knows kids there and I have a say in who she spends time with. If this can be laid at the feet of one group, team, cohort, etc. then I know who to watch out for.


Johnny Calcagno said...

I attended a College Information event at Garfield tonight (which was quite impressive by the way), and noticed a couple of news trucks parked in the lot. I'm thinking this story is about to get more attention and perhaps start a city-wide discussion.

Melissa Westbrook said...

HP, the Crosscut blurb is very inflammatory and states things not in the e-mail Howard sent to parents (maybe a second e-mail? but I doubt it).

It's funny how some "journalists" don't want to check their facts.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

As a current garfield student, I would like to clarify some things about friday. The gathering was not by any means one group, club, or team, but a huge mix grades and groups were there.
Froshing has been a long standing tradition at Garfield, and i don't think there is anything that will be done that will stop that. I agree that some of the froshing was too far, but I know that there is a lot of froshing that is not getting publicized that is totally fine. I had a great experience getting froshed as a freshman, and my parents talked to the parents of the upperclassmen froshing me and everyone was aware of what was going to happen and it was fun and safe and I had a great time and made friends with the upperclassmen and look back on it fondly. Garfield administration has drawn a line that is black and white-no froshing/hazing or you will be severely punished. It is part of the Garfield spirit and tradition to have froshing.
I don't think that the situation was dealt with in the right way. I take full responsibility for the choices I made last week, as does pretty much everyone else who was there. It was not a big party just to frosh, but a kind of celebration because of homecoming, purple and white, the game, and the dance. I also know that not everyone there was involved in froshing, and I understand that it is being regarded as bullying and that there were bystanders. However, the freshman knew what they were getting into and had a choice of whether to be froshed or not. However, it was unsafe in that environment, and i think that that should stop.
I also know that whatever they do, there is no way teenagers will not party on homecoming, because they are teenagers. That doesn't mean that they are bad people.
When administration made the choice to show up instead of leaving it to the police, that made students have to make a fast decision. If caught by Garfield, they will not go to a good college and their future is ruined. That sends the pressure to run, which is the reason kids ran into the street and drove drunk and caused accidents. If they weren't under the extreme threat to get away so fast, they would have used the arrangements they had made with designated drivers and such to be responsible. But when their life's future is on the line, they will put a lot at risk. Also, there were more than 100 people there. A lot of people will go to parties on homecoming that don't ever otherwise go to parties. Should they be punished so severly when they weren't doing anything illegal? I don't think so.
I would also like to point out that suspension and expulsion is not a good way to punish people. That just gives them more time to go do illegal things, as well as showing up on their permanent record for college just because of one day. Why not do something productive? Why not volunteer somewhere where you will make a difference in a good way and put in time for your mistakes and not ruin your future?
Also, the kid who called mr. howard derogatory names and threw eggs at him does not go to garfield. That sounds like I'm just trying to take the blame off garfield, but i'm just telling the truth.
We as students do know that we deserve a lot of the blame. But were not bad people. Please remember that. I hope that this post doesn't make it sound like we don't care, because we do. Students at garfield are good people, but they are teenagers who make bad decisions and mistakes. Also, garfield is getting a lot of bad press for this, but for every bad thing that happens I could tell you lots of great things at garfield that are happening too, like our sports, music, and academics. Don't forget about the good side. Also, remember back to when you were a teenager and if you ever made a mistake. Were you punished for that mistake by not being able to go to a good college? Thats whats happening.

GHS student

Melissa Westbrook said...

However, the freshman knew what they were getting into and had a choice of whether to be froshed or not.

Please. You'll old enough to see the silliness of that statement. They want to be "in" and liked, was it a real choice?

No one is saying partying is bad but there is having fun and dressing up and acting silly. But underaged drinking? No.

The administration appeared to show up WITH the police. Oh, consequences. Because the administrator knew faces but not the cops so you could get away.

That means you knew the rules at Garfield and decided they didn't matter. That was your choice and it was a youthful one and one you may learn from.

And you know that ALL those kids were doing nothing illegal? I'm not sure you could.

But understand, no one has said any student (maybe save whoever spoke to Mr. Howard that way) is bad. They aren't. They're young and they decided to use poor judgment. But no one thinks you're bad kids.

Understand that we all know this could be ANY high school in any city. But that doesn't make it right and as adults we worry about these kinds of things.

Did you read my original post? A young man in college died being hazed on a band trip. That's what we don't want to happen to you.

Donald Williamson said...

If that kid is a real student he needs to learn to edit his writing. Abominable. I read last year about girls at GHS hazing freshpersons by sending them through a car wash.
This is sick stuff and leads to sicker stuff. I wish they'd gotten a slew of coppers and rounded up all of them. Hazing sucks. It's done in gangs and the military, go to YouTube and watch Coast Guard hazing when then cross the dateline. And then there's frats. I mean people die, like that poor drum major, beaten to death on a bus at a Florida college. What happened to people to make them do these things?

Anonymous said...

Melissa: I am sorry that you had to delete my post even though I only repeated what the GH students stated before and after me.
Anyway, I am still wondering who and how provided the alcohol last Friday for the hazing. 100 students are a lot even if not everyone was drinking...
SPS mom

Lynn said...

That's a good question SPS Mom. There's a crime I think we all agree should be investigated.

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Anonymous said...

Hazing can be positive? It's GOOD to be forced to drink, get paddled, get smeared with shoe polish-and PLEASE one, of you students, DO TELL what THAT'S all about! It's GOOD to run into traffic and cause accidents but hey, that was the responsible ADULTS' fault, right?

And COURSE the kid calling Mr. Howard names wasn't a student-GARFIELD kids aren't racist or anything.

Kids, you're making your school look even worse.

I hope the police can get some of the victims to talk this time and put an end to this nonsense once and for all.

(Still) Appalled

Anonymous said...
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Mindy said...

I'm currently an upperclassmen at GHS. I'd like to start off by saying that the bulk of the people posting on here are adults who've never had a first-hand experience with froshing. Many of them are jumping to conclusions and making snap judgments based on biased information they've heard from the media. As someone who actually has experienced froshing first hand, I’d like to say that it is no way life threatening and is actually rather tame. The worst of it is getting condiments thrown on you, which I think we can all agree doesn’t exactly make your life flash before your eyes.
I’ll start out by addressing Melissa’s comments in response to my fellow Garfield classmate.
(1) Melissa believes that froshing is not a real choice on the grounds of wanting to be “in” and “liked”. This is completely false. Froshing is completely voluntary. Melissa can argue that statement all she wants with her grandiose ideas about popularity making being froshed involuntary, but when it comes down to it it’s voluntary. No one is forced into it. No one is looked down upon if they choose not to participate. It is entirely up to the freshman whether or not they want to be froshed. So, to answer your question, yes, it is a real choice.
(2) Melissa believes underage drinking is unacceptable. If that’s the case, I have a question for Melissa and the rest of the adults who are supporting her statement on the issue of underage drinking. Are you saying that you didn’t have a sip of alcohol until you were 21 years of age? Please. Everyone experiments, whether it’s in high school or college. I’m not condoning underage drinking. I’m merely pointing out that it’s quite common among teenagers, and is really the least of our worries compared to some of the problems we’re facing in the world right now.
(3) Melissa believes it was vital for the administration to show up alongside the cops, because the cops couldn’t identify Garfield students. This is completely untrue. The police officer brought to the keg by Ted Howard is at GHS every single day. He’s been there since the very first day of my freshman year. I see him at least 3-4 times a week in passing. He sees GHS’s student body just as much as Ted Howard does, if not more. He’d be able to identify Garfield students to the same ability as the rest of the staff at GHS.
I understand that you believe you’re only looking out for our well-being, but by posting malicious, accusatory comments, you’re only doing the opposite. Froshing at a high school level isn’t dangerous. The only thing dangerous about it is the prospect that we might get suspended/expelled for it, which will affect our future. Looking at the situation from that perspective, your idea of looking out for our wellbeing is having the opposite effect than intended.
Also David Williams, it’s completely unnecessary for you to tear apart a teenager’s opinions based on grammatical errors. What’s the purpose of that? Is it to invalidate their opinion and make them feel inferior? Does it make you feel superior when you use the word abominable? It’s attitudes like that that create animosity between teenagers and adults.
I would strongly advise those of you who don’t know anything about GHS froshing to educate yourselves before you jump to conclusions and make outlandish statements. When you assume you only make an a** out of you and me!

Anonymous said...

Since the underlying topic of this hazing discussion is bullying, can we not bully and mock the students who've chimed in on this discussion? I may not share their perspectives, but I value what they have to say, and their willingness to say it. I also have no reason, or evidence, to question their credibility or doubt their sincerity.

It bothers me to see them lectured to and mocked by adults who weren't there, had no part on the incident, and have nothing besides second-hand, hearsay accounts to rely on, many of which may be self-serving or inaccurate. It's why we have a hearsay rule in court.

Kids: You may not agree with me, but I think the GHS principal did what most parents would want him to do, whether you think it was fair or not. We don't want high school kids drinking and hazing. It's a dangerous combination and we've all got stories to tell about when drinking led to bad outcomes. Trust me on that.

Adults: Let's keep it open and inviting, and not be talking down to high school kids willing to engage with us. I don't think we're going to change minds or feelings by mocking kids and condescending toward them, and some of the replies and comments are in that vein. You think your own kids tell you everything they do? Did you tell your parents everything you did? Hardly.

It's their school and they are the ones involved. Let's listen to what they have to say.


Garfield 012 said...

I recently graduated from Garfield and it really pains me to see this happening. For me froshing was an awesome experience where I had a lot of fun and made friends I'll have the rest of my life. The awful stigma that surrounds hazing is 90% horror stories that parents hear with no idea of what hazing is actually like. I was froshed by peers who respected me and looked at froshing as a right of passage. Unless something has drastically changed in two years, I was able to say no and actually be listened to and respected if I felt something was crossing a line. I, like many of my peers, told my parents that I was going to get hazed and they made sure that I would call them if anyone or anything was unsafe. This is the death of a tradition that I, like many others, will remember for the the rest of my life.

As for drinking, parents need to be pragmatic. This is high school. Your kids will drink. Hopefully you too were in high school and can remember what it was like. Make sure your kids understand how absurdly dangerous drinking and driving is, instead of trying to ban alcohol at all costs. Putting so much emphasis on not doing something only makes it more desirable. Many kids get to college without drinking and when given the opportunity to are overcome by the desire to party at the cost of school.

If you can't trust your kids to make decisions in high school, then college is going to be really rough for you as a parent. Trust that you have instilled good values, and if you haven't then nows the time to start.

As always, Go Bulldogs

Greenwoody said...

I think the comments here from victims of hazing at Garfield who have now rationalized it as somehow a positive, voluntary experience are incredibly chilling and disturbing to read. To me these comments are much worse than the what was described that took place on Friday night, indicating there is a deep and pervasive culture of abuse at Garfield that has to be addressed now.

I graduated from a public high school 15 years ago and our school had nothing like this, not even the supposedly innocent and voluntary "froshing." We all turned out just fine. So clearly hazing can be stamped out.

As a community and a city, our goal must be to stamp out all forms of hazing. We need to set an example here, starting with criminal charges for those kids who committed physical assault and expulsions from Garfield for upperclassmen who participated in this activity. A lot of Seattle teens would love to go to Garfield, so those expelled abusers will not be missed. SPS and GHS have good policies on paper that will crack down hard on the people who committed these acts of abuse. We in the public need to make sure those policies are fully and strictly enforced

To the Garfield students reading this, adults are not going to allow this practice to continue. You can rationalize hazing however you like, but we are going to put an end to it, and you are going to comply by not doing this - meaning any form of hazing or froshing - ever again.

Anonymous said...

What a great discussion! Thank you, once again, Melissa for hosting this space for open, respectful discussion about issues affecting Seattle students.

I need to chime in about the perception that most high school kids drink alcohol. While most Seattle high school seniors have tried alcohol, most Seattle high school students do not currently drink and most do not binge drink. In fact, 60% of Seattle high school seniors report not drinking in the last thirty days (current use) in the 2012 WA Healthy Youth Survey (HYS). Data about bullying is also available through the HYS.

District results are available online: http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=232616. HYS results for each middle and high school are available through each individual school.

High school students are fully capable of making choices that are healthy and safe – and most do. Our job as parents and community members is to maintain safe and healthy environments for teenagers and to provide support so that it is easy for them to continue to make good decisions.

Inga Manskopf

Lisa said...

So, I asked my Ballard senior at dinner last night if there is hazing at BHS, and he said absolutely not. No personal experience or sight of it in band or numerous clubs. It's possible some group he doesn't hang out with practices some form of initiation, but I think he would have heard of anything as extreme as this incident.

He hasn't been enrolled at any other high school, but he knows kids from many schools though All City Band, and he feels Ballard's school spirit is up there with any other local high school. I'm only a parent, but I feel the same way. It is definitely possible to have a cohesive school community without hazing.

Anonymous said...

Greenwood, I am with you. I am very chilled by what I'm reading. Melissa, I know that some of the students' comments are unsigned, but please allow them to remain so that other readers can see how these kids are justifying the drinking and the hazing. It's really disturbing.

My own recently graduated student (Franklin) reports nothing like this went on there either, not in her sports team and not in general. Unless she was supremely clueless, I tend to think she's correct. And I recall a reader here talking about the popular anti-drinking group at Hale, I think it was. It's NOT everywhere and all teens do NOT drink.

I found one of the teen's comments truly odd. They blamed Mr. Howard for causing the car accidents because the teens had to run away since he would recognize them. He was criticized for leaving his school instead of letting the officer take care of things. What strange and twisted logic.

The whole thing is beyond disturbing, especially since some imply that some parents knew about this and were ok with it.

Sad Mom

Broadmom said...

Wow, the comments from the GHS students are disturbing. You don't think the kids who are having condiments thrown at them aren't humiliated? Even if they asked for it? There are much nicer and healthy ways to promote bonding and school spirit. We should not let it slide because it is a tradition. The students who are posting here and condoning any type of hazing need to grow up and realize what they are saying. And, making kids jump into Lake Washington may seem innocent, but what if someone can't swim and they are embarrassed to say anything? Hazing is humiliating and potentially dangerous.

Ty Graham said...

Melissa, could you please aggregate and repost the deleted GHS student posts. I think this unfiltered look into the minds of hs students is really valuable.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I do apologize but, like Garfield, we do have rules here. No anonymous comments. That said, yes, some of them were disturbing but they are also teens.

(SPS Mom, that deletion was accidental, sorry.)

Mindy, you make a lot of very broad statements.

"..the bulk of the people posting on here are adults who've never had a first-hand experience with froshing."

What? First, I know we ancient to you but yes, we were ALL teens at one point. Second, yes, my high school did have "froshing" and so did many, many high schools throughout the U.S. You can go look it up. Garfield didn't invent this.

I didn't say froshing wasn't voluntary but when you are trying to fit in, there are many dumb things you will do. I did when I was "inducted" into cheerleading. But we did things like get kidnapped in our pjs and having to pose for embarrassing photos (fully clothed, mine you). No one hit us, or threw things at us (like sriracha which can burn eyes). There's a difference. What happened last Friday sounds much more about pain and humiliation than embarrassment and fun.

I didn't say it was "vital" for Mr. Howard to show up but that he did - that he cares about the safety of his students even off campus speaks volumes about him. And, as the person large and in charge, it would have been wrong for him to do nothing. I will point out if he HAD not gone and just called the police, many more officers would have shown up. That would have been better?

"Froshing at a high school level isn’t dangerous."

You have no data to prove this. So this one doesn't pass the test. We're adults and do keep up with the news and yes, it can be dangerous and people do get hurt.

Also, Lake Washington is a very cold lake and anyone who has been drinking then has a double whammy if they jump in (especially from a dock.)

Lastly, you are lucky I didn't delete your comment because this is an adult blog and we don't allow name-calling.

As the calls for "being pragmatic" about underaged drinking. Of course we know this goes on. It always has and always will. I am much more understanding at a college level than high school.

If you think you will find very many adults here who say, oh, sure we all did it (we didn't) so go ahead, you'd be wrong.

Our job is to protect you, whether you are our child or not, and act as adults in your lives. It's not our job to be your friend and neither is Mr. Howard's.

Again, no one who participated is a bad person and no one here has said that. But these students, both the leaders and the participants, broke school and district rules and those who hit people and drank broke the law.

There was an old tv show about an ex-cop with a theme song that said "don't do the crime if you can't do the time." I'm pretty sure Mr. Howard will show mercy to the students but he does have to act as the adult in charge and make it crystal-clear about what is allowed and what isn't.

Lessons learned, I hope.

Eric B said...

The Garfield students' posts appall me. I'm supposed to believe it's Mr. Howard's fault that students drank and ran across roads? It's OK for students to get paddled because your froshing experience wasn't anything like that? That the school shouldn't crack down on froshing at all (even the truly dangerous and abusive stuff) because you look back fondly on that experience? That it's OK because everyone else is doing it? That you should get a free pass to break the law because you're young and invincible?

What kind of warped student body dynamic is going on here?

Eric B said...

By the way, I taught sailing on Lake Washington for several years. It is EXTREMELY easy to get into a life-threatening situation with hypothermia in the lake. In fall weather like this, most people will be unable to swim after half an hour or so in the water in normal clothes. Alcohol use reduces that time, as will low body fat (seals have blubber for a reason!). Standing around out of the water in cotton clothing is just as bad as being in the water, worse when it's windy. March is even worse, since the water is colder.

For everyone who says it's not dangerous, note the staff member in the thread who says that they almost lost a student a few years ago.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Eric, I know you and I believe you do not have teenagers yet.

Of course, they don't want to get what you are stating because they want to have fun and believe it's community-building and no one will get hurt.

(Which reminds of a a line from some sitcom, "It's always fun until someone gets hurt; then it's hilarious." No, it's not.)

They're not warped; they're teenagers.

And that's why, even as teens, children still need watching over.

Anonymous said...

As a GHS Parent - I have to say that I was very happy that Ted Howard took the steps he did to try and mitigate the Friday afternoon activities.

Our student wasn't there, but many of his friends were and it is very interesting to listen to the student perspective. Many of the kids gathered there weren't actually there for the "froshing" but were just there to hang with friends (and many of them do drink in that situation).

Unfortunately these Friday afternoon "parties in the Arboretum" are pretty much weekly in the Fall - whether its Homecoming or not. The police have to know that its happening, as there are current Garfield parents who say they are holding these parties in the exact same location that they used to 30 years ago.

This event has presented some very valuable "teachable" moments with our kid and we have discussed the media frenzy created over it and the fact that when it reaches this decibel level, the truth and details no longer matter. You are guilty by association by just being in the area and you have to be ready to take personal responsibility for your decision.

If our student takes part in hazing next year (or this Spring) - he is aware that he is on is own as far as reaping the consequences. Short of locking him in his room (which doesn't always work either - ask my sister who was the strictest parent on the planet and is now just learning exactly what her kids actually did in high school) he has to learn to make his own decisions now so that when he is away at school he has enough experience to understand what it means to be an adult.

To the Juniors and Seniors who are now facing issues with college applications- it is not the administration's fault that you chose to participate in something like hazing when you were forewarned what the consequences would be for those activities. Learn how to take personal responsibility for your decisions. It will help you later on in life, as that is what is missing in so many people these days.

It was your fault. You now pay the price and accept admission to whatever school you can get into. You will be fine - learn from it.

The majority of these kids are really good, smart kids that made dumb decisions. However, the dumb decisions are usually the downfall for many.

-GHS Parent

Eric B said...

Melissa, I do have a sophomore at Ingraham. When we talked about this incident this morning, she was as appalled as I was. I certainly did my share of stupid stuff in high school, some of it involving alcohol, but I would never have had the gall to blame the administrator for me getting caught.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Eric, you seem so young. Sorry, I didn't realize that.

Eric B said...

No worries. My friends said I was secretly 35 when I left college.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting a response. It helps us older people understand the situation from a young person's point of view. I wish more students would post here and tell us what is going on in their schools and lives.
Voluntary is a tricky word here, to me anyways. I was a teenager and went to a big public high school myself, so I have relevant experience. Fitting in with a group of kids was very important, for some kids it was extremely important. We would do what the other kids in the group were doing, nor necessarily because we liked the activity, but we liked the people, or we just needed a group to be around.
My group was into drinking, pot smoking, listening to records; basically partying. We drove around drunk, stole beer and liquor from garages, and had a little sex, very little, in my opinion. It was really about getting high.
It was considerably more destructive than what I'm hearing about here, but the times were different. My class, 1977, was the first that started high school when the war in Vietnam was ending. We kids had known that war literally our entire lives and we grew up hearing about body counts and head-cracking cops and napalm and, worst of all, getting drafted to go fight. By the time I was a sophomore,it was all over. It was like a bad dream had ended for the whole country and a unholy hell that awaited kids before us vanished into thin air. Sure, there was the gas crunch, inflation, but no more death and destruction waiting for us after highschool. Everyone wanted to forget and just live. And we partied hard and the adults let it slide because they were sick of It all too. Seeing their boys die or get messed up by a war in Asia and another one at home about that war.
You guys do read history in school, right?
Nowadays, you kids have a different world to look forward to and it bothers us parents to see stuff like hazing. If you read this blog you see that we argue about some kids getting what are perceived as better opportunities in SPS(APP) and better cirriculum and better management of the district.
For better or worse, we now hire our soldiers and we can very easily think about more pleasant things.
My problem with hazing is that it can be a cover for bullies to hurt others, mentally or physically. You don't sound insecure, but, unless the world has changed, there are lots of insecure kids in high school. They will do things to be accepted that they might not do of they didn't feel it was the only way.
Have you ever read about gang initiation? How about the Tailhook convention in the 80's, I believe it was? Frat hazing? Navy hazing?
You kids know how to google and youtube, check it and see if that's the kind of activity you want to be even remotely associated with.
As far as ridiculing the poor lad's writing of was meant in the spirit of good fun, and as you can see, my own leaves a lot to be desired. My own children have the frustrating habit of never proofing their work before I read it. And big words like abominable not only make me feel superior, but bring back fond memories of watching that great Christmas special narrated by Burl Ives. I had a friend in elementary school who loves to imitate the old miner when he tasted the dirt for gold. Mmmm, nothin'!
But the best part was the Abominable Snowman. I was so proud when I was able to pronounce it and I like to use whenever possible.
Your school made that happen for me yesterday and I do thank you for that.

Donald Willianson

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's because I live near Alki, and see what your kids do all summer long, that I'm not at all "appalled" or even surprised that kids today are doing things adults don't want them to do. Been to a teen dance lately? Some heads would explode.

Since TV and movies seem to be our ultimate reference points we can muster, it reminds me of a really bad movie called "Footloose." But I bet a bunch of parents paid to see that movie, way back when. How appalling! Look what you were endorsing!

I work with teens and kids a lot, and you have to take the long view. You're not going to stop activities or change attitudes overnight, rules or not. It's a daily process. Experiences are great teachers and this one's a good one. But I think it's quickly become a lost opportunity. Now with a media circus going on, the general attitude among the student body is that clueless adults everywhere are simply over-reacting based on stories and rumors, versus facts. It's the telephone game, and we parents have played it very poorly.

Expulsion? Sure. And what then? They're still on our dime, either way. Ruin their lives or scar them so they won't be as productive as they otherwise might in the future? Who thinks that's a good idea? Where's this pipeline to prison concern all the sudden?

Arguing with kids on their level, lecturing them and telling them they're just wrong? Tons of knee jerking going on, but not much insight. I'm disappointed. I was honestly expecting better.

The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls, and we're walking right past without reading. Too bad.


Anonymous said...

From the New York Times - this battle is being fought across the country. Seems to be an age old problem related to popularity, privilege and power.


P & W

Melissa Westbrook said...

I thank Donald and WSDWG for those insights; they are valuable.

Lecture or helping them face outcomes? There's a fine line. But better to learn consequences as a teen than as an adult.

Anonymous said...

WSDWG Re-Posting for...

Anonymous said...
As someone present I can confirm it was a student of NOVA. There was NO shoe polish as far as I know. Not involved just present

10/2/13, 11:25 AM

Anonymous said...

MW: If rules are rules, why is the Garfield staff member's anonymous post at 7:06 p.m. still standing? Are we censoring now?

In the past you've frequently given fair warnings and reminders to people to use a name or they'll be deleted, but not the GHS kids last night. Why? Don't you think your readers want to read those comments, appalling or not?

Regardless, you now have several follow-up comments referencing earlier students' comments that no longer exist. That really frustrates the discussion.

See what happens with strict rule obsessions? Unintended consequences and diminished quality.


Anonymous said...

WSDWG, last time I checked, underage drinking was illegal. Drinking and DRIVING is not only illegal but dangerous, possibly lethal.I can't be the only one who knew a fellow classmate back in the day who crashed his car after drinking.

I absolutely think that kids should be held accountable for these offenses. This isn't about dancing. In Garfield's own newsletter in the spring of 2012, a parent mentions a student nearly dying of alcohol poisoning (see centraldistrictnews.com).

You sound like the parent of a kid at Garfield-you seem to know how the current students are reacting. How did YOUR student handle the hazing? Was he or she a participant? Were you aware of it? Do you plan to impose any consequences?

In my opinion, when kids are not held accountble-and there is a LOT to be accountable for here-they grow up thinking they can do anything. And one day that "anything" could be deadly. The tossed eggs and shoe polish are bad and humiliating to the victims but for me the real issue is the drinking, forced, according to some of those interviewed, and what can happen in such cases. I would not want my kid anywhere near such activities.

Sad Mom

Anonymous said...

Reposting since I think it was just accidental that it didn't get deleted:

Anonymous said...
As a staff member for many years at Garfield this issue continues to worsen each year. What the public and parents don't see is the planning and lying that go into making an event such as the one last Friday happen. Kids think it is cool - and why is that? Don't even start with "boys will be boys" or anything about "no harm" or "kids wanted to join" - it doesn't matter. We almost lost a student two years ago from this harmless fun. At some point some kid is going to drink too much, drive or swim, and kill him/herself or another person.

We have all made bad decisions in our lives and I am no exception to that. But as an adult, an educator, a parent, there are things that cross the line and what happened last Friday went way over that line. Thank goodness that we have a principal who cares enough to go out there and look for our kids. I have heard from angry parents saying that Ted should keep his job ON campus - what kids do off campus is their own business. Really? And the students who told their parents "I was there but doing nothing wrong." That isn't possible. Being there was wrong - it was set up as a kegger with hazing - admit it to your parents and learn from it. Quit blaming the principal for getting caught.

10/1/13, 7:06 PM

SPS mom

Anonymous said...

Isn't the overall goal to get to the bottom of what happened, and then decide proper remedies, including punishments? We are jumping to all sorts of wild conclusions that will simply be scoffed at by kids who were there, but did not witness particular acts, or kids who weren't there, but have friends who were, etc. It's a giant ball of hearsay string to unwind right now, and we've barely begun the unwinding.

I'm really disappointed that two or three key pieces of evidence were deleted for violating our blog rules. Come On! If ever there was a cause for granting an exception to the rules that was it.

And "rules are rules" is such a trite expression anymore, particularly to a high school generation educated in Howard Zinn's Peoples History of the United States, where students are taught how, throughout history, rules and the law were routinely used to crush opposition, oppress people, advantage people, strip away people's rights, land, homes, etc. As parents who supposedly know what's going on in our kids lives, we could be more sincere and empirical.

An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself. Thomas Paine

If that's not worth remembering, I don't know what is.


Garfield Student said...

I am a current Garfield student, and we are all much more aware than Ted Howard or the Seattle Police Department or you for that matter of the events that took place on Friday. I understand that Ted Howard appeared at the scene because the freshmen parents hold him responsible for what happens to their kids. As for the name-calling, it is shameful that a non-Garfield student would say that and that everyone else would call it convenience to shift blame. Perhaps we have been called reckless teenagers, but racism is an entirely separate matter that you cannot just assume one party to be guilty of for other actions they have taken. For example, if a student cheated on a test, that does not mean he's also a racist..the two are separate and do not equate. As for the previous comments, I'm very inclined to agree. Your patronizing comments towards students' accounts of what happened and what they believe to be true about hazing are completely uncalled for, especially since they are speaking with knowledge of first-hand experience where your only claims are based off of hearsay, which, in the real world I may add is MUCH less compelling to any audience. Yes, you may have experienced froshing in your days, but that is not relevant. What is relevant is the situation at hand and you must also realize that times have changed and you cannot compare your high school with ours.
While I agree that being forced to drink and being paddled is completely unacceptable, also realize that not every kid there was participating in those activities, and not all froshing consists of that. I was froshed as a freshman and I swam in Lake Washington, completely sober, and was then wrapped in a towel and was brought to Starbucks where the upperclassmen paid for my drink. They also saw to getting me rides home, and picking me up. They asked each and every freshman I was with if the activities about to take place were okay with them. It is a choice. In the afternoon I did wall sits, and played egg tosses and whoever lost the egg toss would wear a funny costume such as bunny ears, or a witch hat. Yes, condiments were poured all over us, but it was not humiliating, it was in fact a bonding experience after which we were hosed down and given a shower. Admittedly, and almost as expected, there are kids that take it too far every year. As said earlier by a Garfield staff member, one of our own members of the Bulldog family was seriously injured by alcohol consumption. That is completely unacceptable and very scary. However, in contrast with the bigger picture and the rest of the students who were completely safe during froshing events, it is shameful that that is how froshing is perceived. One isolated incident does not depict the hundreds of other froshing stories in which kids had fun. I had a blast being froshed, and afterwards I had upperclassmen friends that always looked out for me. If I had not wanted to get froshed, I simply would have gathered a group of friends and bussed home after school. Garfield students do not frosh unwilling kids, they ask beforehand, they do not just grab you walking home and stuff you in a car. And for ALL froshing to be known as such is just naive and seems as though these adults are merely finding what they want and interpreting it to best suite their opinions. Yes, one student's incident can ruin it for all, which is why these no hazing policies are being put into place, but please don't generalize the entire population when the happy accounts of froshing outnumber the bad ones a million to one. It is both unfair and inaccurate.
I ask that as students are voicing their opinions in respectful manners, you show them the same respect.

Melissa Westbrook said...

WSDWG, ah the life of a blogger. It seems that this "job" is my life and I am not allowed a mistake or overlook. Unlike the overwhelming majority of people here, I read every single comment. But, I can error and trying to make this my "obsession" in order to prove a point on Garfield isn't really worthy. (And I left Mindy's long diatribe even though she did some name-calling.)

That a staff member thinks the situation is getting worse year by year should tell you something.

Also, the district, law enforcement and the school get to decide the remedies/punishments, not us. Apparently the rules against hazing are there - on Garfield's front webpage and in the student conduct - for all to see. It's not my call what their punishment should be (although, and I bet you missed this - I said I thought Mr. Howard would show mercy.

I haven't heard one person state what they think the punishment should be and I have not heard one person say anyone should be expelled.

I may have to do a thread on what this blog is and isn't. And what the rules are and aren't.

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Melissa Westbrook said...

"..Ted Howard appeared at the scene because the freshmen parents hold him responsible for what happens to their kids."

Yes, that would be his job... to watching over ALL the Garfield students.

And this continued insistence that a non-Garfield student called Mr. Howard names is confusing because I thought I understood that person was wearing a mask of some kind. So how did anyone really know? And, if you do, have you gone to this person and told him or her to go and make an apology?

My claims are off of what Mr. Howard has stated and what he stated to the district. I offered no such heresay and I will be looking at the police report this afternoon. So maybe something to add.

I like "your experience isn't ours" - it IS relevant as the writer who said none of us here had ever experienced froshing is not true. Sorry, but everyone gets to use their life experience in relating to these kinds of matters to some degree.

No one said everyone was participating to the same degree - either the leaders or the participants. No one says anyone was forced to do anything. No one says anyone is bad.

I have not been disrespectful and if you read my comments you would see that.

Eric B said...

WSDWG, there are four things that really bother me about this incident:

The hazing has been going on for years, everyone knows about it, and it's still an accepted part of life at Garfield. There doesn't appear to be any daily process toward getting better. Heck, one of the students said her parents were involved in setting up her hazing incident a few years ago!

Students are presenting lame excuses to the media. Sure, I expect kids to try the old "everyone was doing it" and "it wasn't that bad" and whatever else to their parents. I wouldn't expect the student body president to feel no shame about telling the Times that it's just a part of life at Garfield. Maybe I'm naive, but I would think that the average teenager would know that this isn't going to play well in Peoria, so to speak.

This is sort of related to the one above, but the blame shifting is bizarre to me. Sure, you don't necessarily expect teens to take responsibility for themselves when they do stupid stuff, but you'd expect them to blame other students or random people in the community. Blaming the principal for the car accidents is pretty far out there.

The last thing is the brazenness of the party/hazing. When I was an underage drinker way back when, we at least went out into the woods or waited until after dark. I'm not saying that makes it safer, but we at least had some concept that we could get caught and there would be consequences if we did. These kids apparently thought nothing of being out with a keg in a well-used park in daylight.

I think you're right that expulsion isn't the right course here. Suspension would be reasonable, especially if it could be tied to some kind of mandatory community service. These kids clearly think that there shouldn't be consequences to this kind of behavior. Until that changes, there won't be any baby steps toward improvement.

Eric B said...

Garfield Student, you've mentioned that not everyone was being paddled or was drinking. Do you think that those activities are wrong? If you do, what do you do as an upperclassman to prevent those activities? Did you intervene when you saw it happening to someone else?

Anonymous said...

@Sad Mom: Sorry. Where do I defend drinking, drinking and driving, forced drinking, or any form of hazing at all?

Your post illustrates my point.


Garfield Student said...

I have been reading your responses which is exactly what prompted me to respond.

It is very simply your tone in which you talk to students as if they are more ignorant about the events on Friday than you. That is untrue, especially for students who were actually there at the time.

You also said that froshing was not a choice in your comments:
"However, the freshman knew what they were getting into and had a choice of whether to be froshed or not.
Please. You'll old enough to see the silliness of that statement. They want to be "in" and liked, was it a real choice?"
All of these comments sound patronizing. PLEASE don't talk to us like we are beneath you! Just because we are younger than you does not mean we don't have valid arguments and opinions to present and for you to dismiss them with a wave of your hand is incredibly disrespectful. I am simply asking that you do not talk down to us, just because we are disagreeing with parts of what you are saying.

I was acknowledging, unlike many other Garfield students have, that I understand that that is why he was there. I wouldn't expect him to do any less, and for you to be like "yes that would be his job...." comes across as though you think I don't understand that, which is completely the opposite. You are just misreading what students are trying to say as if you expect us all to just say "screw mr howard, we just wanted to have fun".

Exactly, you thought** you understood the kid was wearing a mask. That is hearsay. Unless you were there to see the mask, you cannot tell us whether or not it was a Garfield student. I also saw a comment that said "As a student who was there, I can confirm that the student attends NOVA" Someone is giving you firsthand knowledge of what happened. Do you not think it credible that of the alleged 100+ students who were there that there was at least one person standing near the kid when he said it?

It just seems you are too eager to discount the students claims and opinions and that is sad to me as we are the student body that you are speaking of.

Garfield Student said...

Yes absolutely, as mentioned, it is completely unacceptable. If I had been present to intervene, I certainly would have.

Anonymous said...

Hazing recipient who didn't experience it to be a voluntary activity:



Anonymous said...

Here you go, Melissa:

We need to set an example here, starting with criminal charges for those kids who committed physical assault and expulsions from Garfield for upperclassmen who participated in this activity. A lot of Seattle teens would love to go to Garfield, so those expelled abusers will not be missed.

I found it for ya!

Look, I appreciate your role, but on this particular thread, I think exceptions were in order from a quality of discussion viewpoint.

And yes, I saw your mercy comment, but what anyone "thinks" matters how?

I suggest we grant some leeway to the kids when they chime in, because what they say matters, whether it's brilliant, idiotic, or somewhere in between.


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Anonymous said...

The thing that students (children) don't understand, that adults do... is that hazing, in all of it's forms is 1) a form of humiliation, 2) degrading, 3) can easily get out of hand and 4) is just another form of groupthink.

Ok. Some people got away with drinking and driving. But, others caused accidents. Humiliating others - even if they consent, is still a degradation for everyone, even if it is a longstanding tradition. Minors are really not capable of consent - for many things, including sex, drugs, and alcohol. I would place self-humiliation in that category. There's a reason we have an "age of consent". When does the spanking become a beating? Or a death? Minors are not capable of understanding when something has gone too far, which is why there are consequences to teach them. This is serious, even if the students don't see it. People have died at events like this one... funny as they think it all is.


Anonymous said...

Eric B: I'm not sure if or where we disagree. I'm primarily cautioning people to slow down and settle down so every fact isn't obscured by passion. Passion is the enemy of precision.

We know some kids went way over the line of acceptable conduct. We also know some didn't. We also know some participated, and some watched. We know some kids already got suspended, whether they've served it yet, or not. (Well, rumor has it, anyways) We also know many kids simply drove by in cars to see what was going on, and never left their cars. Do they get suspended when they were told not to go there? Is the street or parking lot "there?" Where exactly is "there" when many GHS kids live within a block or two of "there."

We can fill the blog with personal anecdotes, opinions and feelings, and that's all fine and good, but if we want to solve the problems, we need to know what really happened, and go from there.


Anonymous said...

Garfield students: you need to use a moniker at the end of your comment otherwise it will be deleted as it happened before.

Anonymous said...
Again, as a current Garfield High School student, this string of comments absolutely sickens me..

Almost all accusatory comments lack any perspective whatsoever. None of the adults accusing upperclassmen at garfield really have any idea of what they are talking about... there's no first hand experience, and to really understand what froshing/hazing is, you need such experience.

Garfield froshing is nothing along the lines of hostile. Being a freshmen is 2010 was a great experience for me. Froshing was really fun personally, and it's an experience that i will never forget. I made friends with the people that froshed me, and i still am friends with most of the kids that froshed me.

Froshing is meant to be a fun experience. The idea that a student would get punished for not doing something asked by there senior is an absolute myth. Froshing is not supposed to take you out of your comfort zone, and the only people that may feel uncomfortable are those receiving criticism from others without retaining a sense of humor. Froshing involves nothing along the lines of kidnapping. It has and will always be completely voluntary. Although i didn't end up froshing this year, i had freshmen coming up to me all week asking to be froshed.. If that isn't an example of volunteering for this activity, then i don't know what is.

Although many of you are praising Mr. Howard for involving himself in this situation by physically coming to the arboretum to break up our celebration of homecoming, he caused a lot of unnecessary harm. A lot of us as high school students have had experiences with the police of seattle at events like the one on friday before. They are very reasonable, as are we, when they ask to break up these events. There are never any problems. The main thing that the police ask of us is to clean up the area, and we always oblige. Mr. Howard, by coming to the Arboretum, made cleaning up after ourselves impossible. He instilled a new type of fear for the kids that were in attendance; one of their futures... Because of this fear, everyone was forced to react quickly, and flee the scene without thought of anything besides the possibility that their futures could be detrimentally effected if they were to be caught. This instilled fear and this running away not only left the arboretum in disarray because of the garbage left everywhere, but it also caused a car crash.. As well as these two factors directly caused by Mr. Howard's forced involvement, the students fleeing the scene had one place to go, and that was to their cars are into others cars in order to really have a sense of security. This in itself scares me. High school drivers as you all may know are not the best to begin with. Forcing kids that are under the influence into driving their cars not only poses a huge risk to themselves as well as those in the car, but also to all the people on the road at the time. This situation turned into a very dangerous one directly because of the involvement of Mr. Howard. I have the utmost respect for what he is trying to do, i really do, but he needed to stop and think of the effect his presence may have had on the students present.

And one final thing.... The student that yelled slurs and threw eggs at Mr. Howard was not a student of Garfield High School. That is a myth, and Mr. Howard knows this as well for reasons that i will not publicize.

My point is, the accusations being made are ridiculous. Most of you lack any sort of perspective. Maybe instead of making false accusations, ask questions. Maybe people like me will actually be very willing to give you answers based on MY perspective as a garfield senior.. Try it. It may change your perspectives as parents/guardians.

10/2/13, 1:03 PM

SPS mom

Anonymous said...

Ted Howard did not force drunk students to get in their cars and drive.

I'm all for giving the high school kids the benefit of the doubt, but that is utterly false, and cause for alarm if you actually believe that.


Anonymous said...

WSDWG, I never said you did endorse drink or drunk driving. You seemed concerned that people were calling for a "school to prison" path for these students and I responded (as have others) with my chief concerns about the incident, which are drinking underage and drunk driving, which I DO think should be punished, both through the school AND the courts. That's all, and I stand by it.

I'm growing more sad, to refer to my moniker, as I read more responses from students. It boggles my mind that some are blaming their principal, who has every right to enforce school policy, for students panicking and running way or causing car accidents. The implication is that the police look the other way as long as the area is left cleaned up (which also implies that partying is a regular thing) and that Mr. Howard should have left well-enough alone. I disagree. If I can't count on a school principal to protect his students, who will?

I know people for whom forced smoking (referenced by a student in the King5 interview) would be deadly because of asthma. I had a high school classmate hurt badly drinking and driving. I had a college dorm mate nearly die of alcohol poisoning. PLEASE students, understand that we worry for all of you when we hear of things like this in our backyard.

Sad Mom

PS to WSDWG-I was hoping you'd let us know if you do in fact have a student at Garfield and your family's approach to the issue.

Food for thought said...

Garfield student,

I want to try to explain this in a way that is not patronizing, so give me the benefit of the doubt and please take it that way.

With the benefit of hindsight and a lifetime of experience, it is very easy to look back and see those times in your life where you *thought* you were acting voluntarily, but in fact there were a variety of (unseen) social or economic or other pressures that restricted those choices. And so one ends up doing things that one might not have done, and perhaps wished one hadn't done, even though at the time it seemed like it was a free choice or a good idea. The point I see many adults making is that high school students have a limited pool of experience on which to draw, and thus are more likely to see these things as 'voluntary', and in twenty years, or perhaps even in four to five years when you get to college and take a class on social group behavior, you'll begin to see otherwise.

No doubt all hazing is not created the same, but once it starts it has a tendency to get out of hand. One student suggested that froshing is 90% horror stories - even if we take that to be the case, that means 10% of the horror stories are true. If the price of your 'positive' experience is that FIFTY of your classmates will suffer a traumatic experience that may forever impact his or her life, is that really worth it? Are you really willing to sacrifice the wellbeing of 10% of your classmates, just for a little bonding? Especially when it's possible to achieve that bonding without causing the same trauma?

That's why parents, the principal, and the staff are upset. No one is saying that students shouldn't have bonding experiences. But people are saying that the price of froshing is unacceptable.

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Anonymous said...

Re the poster who asked "do you card kids drinking who look young?"


First off, very few 21+ people drink in most Seattle parks b/c it's illegal. Seattle has an open container law AND alcohol's not allowed in parks. So most 23 year olds drink in bars and apts, except on perfectly gorgeous summer days, which last Friday was not. So if you see a cluster drinking outside on a 60 degree day -- they're underage.

I card smokers in the back of Ballard HS by the pool ALL THE TIME when I swim at lunch. I go right up and say, "You know, no one's allowed to smoke on school property, and if you're under 18, it's illegal." I usually get lip from the one 18 y.o. in the group, who likes to "prove it" that she's 18 (why is it always a her?) by showing me her license, but the others lose their sticks and melt back toward the school. I just figure if the point's made often enough, maybe they'll start skipping the smoke break.

If I see a girl smoking by herself, I tell her she's too pretty to ruin her skin and teeth that way, or I say half the people in the world would never kiss her - and they're the half who have more money to spend b/c they don't waste it on cigarettes.

Sometimes I say "You know, you'll give $30,000 to big tobacco in the next 10 years. How much is that car you want? You like being broke more or less than you like cigarettes?"

I confront young smokers every single time. If I saw young drinkers, you bet I'd do that too.

Yes, I'm provocative. I think it lets them know adults are watching and maybe they'll think about what I said over the course of the evening.

Signed - No Smoking

Eric B said...

Garfield students, the reason I asked whether you condoned drinking and paddling is that activity has defined everything that you hold dear about froshing. If this case only involved salad dressing and face paint, nobody would care. At least in news reports, there was a keg and hard alcohol in the area, and students were responsible for that. You can call this a lecture or a life lesson, but if you want parents to believe froshing is harmless, then you need to police people who step out of line.

And for God's sake, stop blaming Mr. Howard. He showed up where students were doing what they shouldn't. Breaking the rules has consequences, and blaming the principal for students not wanting to face those consequences makes you sound like an arrogant entitled jerk. If that doesn't describe you, you should know that blaming the principal makes you sound that way and take any action you deem appropriate.

Jamie said...

Here are two upcoming community meetings about teens and drinking/drug use:

NW Seattle Coalition for a Drug-Free Community

Mission: To prevent underage drinking and substance abuse in Ballard, Queen Anne and Magnolia through education, advocacy, and youth engagement.

We are proud to present:
"It's not MY kid!"

Join us for this informative session on Wednesday, October 9th 7:00-8:30PM at the Ballard High School Library.

Every two years, the state conducts a survey among 8th, 10th and 12th grade students that assesses health and risk behaviors. Lisa Sharp, Prevention Program Coordinator from the Seattle School district will present an analysis of the Seattle School's newest data, including interesting information on kids' attitudes towards marijuana and alcohol use.

Frank Couch, MA, LMFT, CDP, NCACI Executive Director will speak to us about how to coach your kids through this landscape and how to clarify family rules and expectations. Frank manages SAMA's clinical programs and Family Navigator support line.


The West Seattle High School PTSA is sponsoring a community meeting with Neighborhood House, Seattle Police Department, Seattle Parks Dept., West Seattle High School, Madison Middle School, along with other community members, to discuss drug and alcohol abuse by youth around West Seattle High School and Madison Middle Schools.

Thursday, October 10th
7:00 pm-8:30 pm
West Seattle High School (meeting in the Library)
3000 California Ave SW

Over the summer 4 young teens were hospitalized after overdosing in our community on cough medicine. Many parents are concerned about the apparent increase in marijuana and alcohol use and sales around Hiawatha Park and the schools.

By working together, we can address these issues and create a safer environment for our kids – but it takes everyone working together.

NW parent said...


Thank you for the link to the King5 story, in which a mother describes how her son was hazed involuntarily and felt sick and humiliated.

For the several GHS students on here who are entirely defending this practice as safe and fun, your feelings and perspective are not universal and you need spend some time thinking about others. Their experience is not the same as yours.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And that is a good and positive note with which to end this discussion.

I'll let you know what the police report says and any updates.