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Pausing Paws

Noma Kreegar and McKenna Cole

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During the week of Nov. 13, Tiger Paws was suspended. It was attributed to the repetition of intolerable activities taking place during the allotted time. Students were said to have been found drinking alcohol, vaping and neglecting their responsibilities as members of the Blue Valley community. Many students were upset and confused by the decision reached by the administration to suspend Tiger Paws. The Tiger Print spoke to students and faculty regarding their thoughts about the events that occurred.

Bacon’s Input 

The recent controversy surrounding the suspension of Tiger Paws prompted discussion not only among the Blue Valley students but the Blue Valley staff as well.

Principal Scott Bacon shared his insight on the issue.

“Staff and students are in control of whether we have Tiger Paws or not,” Bacon said. “If we are not managing our business well, that decision-making power will not rest with us. [There’s] two things we [needed] to do — pick up our trash and use it as an academic support. Not everyone upheld the deal.”

Bacon said there were multiple problems that arose during the hour break, and the suspension was not decided on because of one isolated incident.

“An alarming number of students were vaping during that time in the restrooms,” Bacon said. “Then, I learned there were many people skipping Tiger Paws using the names of people on the pass list. A lot of people knew and nobody said anything. But then I had some students come to me and say, ‘Mr. Bacon, things are getting out of hand.’ That’s when I knew we had to do something drastic.”

In a recent informative assembly, Bacon called students to action, inspiring them to protect Tiger Paws by reporting issues to an adult or staff member.

“If someone sees something during Tiger Paws and comes to me, I’m not going to take it away,” Bacon said. “I am going to be thankful that somebody said something so we can solve the problem and save Tiger Paws for everybody.”

At the time of the suspension, many students were left wondering why the staff had decided to punish the school rather than punishing the people who were causing the problems.

Bacon said he felt collective punishment would incite more change within the community, and would be more efficient in terms of curbing inappropriate behavior.

“We can’t [continue] punishing the individuals because there are too many — it would take too long,” Bacon said. “We’re going to feel the pinch together, and hopefully we can all come back together.”

Bacon said in other schools, the first few years of the Tiger Paws concept proved to be rough, but they were ultimately able to use the time productively and appropriately after a few periods of suspension. Bacon hopes the same will happen for BV.

“I saw a school twice our size with 2,700 students in Florida, and at the end of their power hour, I went through their whole building and only saw four pieces of trash,” Bacon said. “Their principal was embarrassed by that. I thought, ‘You know what? We can do this.’ And I think that we can do it better than them.”

Thompson’s Input 

The reactions to the suspension were varied among the faculty and staff. Social studies teacher Kimberly Thompson said she was surprised with the decision, and felt that there would have been other ways to take care of the issues that arose during Tiger Paws.

“I was initially frustrated because we’ve been told Tiger Paws is so important and integral to student development socially, academically and emotionally,” Thompson said. “If it’s that important and relevant, then it shouldn’t be so dispensable.”

Although Thompson was frustrated with the situation, she said she felt the choice made by the administration was understandable.

“I realize these decisions don’t happen overnight, so my concerns are tempered with respect that I don’t know all the rules,” Thompson said. “I can only react how I think it will affect me and my students. It’s totally anecdotal. It is not a condemnation of the administration of this school.”

Due to an incident in the junior pod regarding alcohol consumption a few days before the suspension, many students blamed the temporary removal of Tiger Paws on those involved in that event.

“It’s possible that student outrage will be directed toward a small group of students — I think that’s almost the point,” Thompson said. “They want to create a culture of mutual responsibility. A common interpretation of it is peer bullying — I don’t know how accurate that is. I think in a human society, there will always be factions that press the boundaries and violate rules.”

Thompson agreed a small percentage of students seemed to be using Tiger Paws inappropriately, but said a majority of students were productive during that time.

“I feel like the students who most benefit from Tiger Paws probably knew very little about this intolerable behavior and were [most likely not] participating in it,” she said. “[However,] they are the ones who, of course, won’t benefit from [the removal of] Tiger Paws.”

Thompson said she recognized positive changes in her classroom following the implementation of Tiger Paws since its establishment last year.

“I notice my afternoon classes tend to be a little more lively and energetic than they used to be when we didn’t have Tiger Paws,” Thompson said.

Despite the mixed feelings among the staff regarding the suspension of Tiger Paws, much of the administration hopes for better behavior moving forward.

Students’ Input 

The suspension of Tiger Paws was something that many students didn’t take lightly. Whether they roamed the halls, relaxed in the Fixed Forum or worked on homework in a teacher’s classroom, many students were inconvenienced by the removal of the hour-long break. Many felt that the decision was reached after an isolated incident in the junior pod a few days beforehand, which caused mixed feelings among each grade level. The Tiger Print reached out to several students to hear their input on the situation.

“Drinking here at school is inappropriate. It’s illegal, so if you are going to drink you should do it off campus. When you are in school, you should be learning and trying to better yourself.” — Emma Anderson, 12

“People shouldn’t do that stuff in school, and it’s disrespectful to all of the other people here at BV.” — Lauren Reddin, 11

“Some people have the situation so wrong and way worse in their head, [but] the phixing and the juuling has been happening for a while now. I feel there are people that would report stuff just to be on the good side of the school.” — Haley Styczykowski, 11

“It’s not fair, and it’s not our fault. It was just one kid that messed up so it shouldn’t be taken away from the rest of us.” — Coen Ward, 9

“No one is going to report anything in the future if everyone is being punished. They need to figure out a way to only punish the people who are causing the problems.” — Allie Bratton, 11

“Mr. Bacon wanted to make an example and prove that he’s not kidding when he says he will take Tiger Paws away. I think it is unfair that the actions of one person leads to the whole school having Tiger Paws taken away.” — Nyah Smith, 9

“It wasn’t just because of the one person. Mr. Bacon has probably been thinking of taking it away for a while now. Tiger Paws was supposed to improve grades and behavior, but that isn’t happening.” — Jaron Cole, 9

“I don’t think it was unfair that Tiger Paws was taken away. People can’t be leaving their trash out or drinking alcohol at school. It was just a build-up of a lot of smaller things, and the alcohol was what pushed it over the edge.” — Joe Gliesman, 12

 

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