Eyes grew wide on Wednesday as Glendale Police Officer Bryan Duncan told high school students the outcome of a recent high-speed traffic accident related to street racing — destroyed cars, criminal charges and long-term disability. And they grew even wider when he showed them on-scene photos.
"The No. 1 goal here is for you guys to see the negative impact that — and pardon my language — screwing around behind the wheel does," Duncan said. "That is what these accidents come down to. People not paying attention, people not doing the right thing, texting, talking on the phone, talking to the passenger next to you."
The presentation was one of dozens taking place at Glendale High School as part of Yellow Ribbon Week meant to address violence and safety issues among students. This year's activities were designed with input from students, who said they need to have a voice in the conversation.
"We have seen altercations happen, we have been in them," said student leader Talin Nazarian, 17. "The teachers see it from afar, but we understand how it feels."
Presentations were made to 120 class periods, said Asst. Principal Scott Anderle, and touched on topics that included street racing, bullying, tolerance, motivation and the pitfalls of sexual cellular text messages, known as "sexting."
Presenter and Glendale High special education teacher David Broughton walked students through the history of the Civil Rights movement, and the non-violent philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"We want you to understand you don't have to use violence, there are ways to solve your problems without," Broughton said. "And you can change society, because students are the power, you guys are the power that changes society."
The Yellow Ribbon Week coincided with shootings at Gardena High School where authorities said two students sustained gunshot wounds after a gun stowed in a backpack accidentally discharged. A student who was apparently feeling threatened had allegedly brought the gun to school..
The Glendale Unified event followed on the heels of a three-day bullying seminar sponsored by the local anti-bullying group Bully Me Not, wherein district staff and community stakeholders were trained to address instances of harassment.
"We can look at what we have done well, we can look at what we have not done well, and we can adjust and make changes and have an impact, even if it is small," said Glendale High counselor Lois Sheridan. "This should be a safe zone, we want it to be a safe zone. But if one student is feeling bullied or unsafe, we can't be satisfied."