High school community looks to unite after racist, homophobic video goes viral


File photo by Spotlight staff

South Hadley High School

Earlier this week, a South Hadley High School student published a string of hateful videos targeting minority students that has since gone viral on social media. In order to learn how the high school plans to respond, Spotlight met with Principal Diana Bonneville, who offered her thoughts on what happened and what the school is planning to help the school community move forward.

Bonneville noted that this issue represents an opportunity for “a catalyst of change,” and discussed the importance of thinking long term when it comes to creating a smooth and safe learning environment for all students. Bonneville said school officials are in the process of reexamining how the school handles issues of hate speech.

Spotlight was interested in what steps staff and students could take in order to ensure a safer community for everybody. Bonneville said that students’ voices in the situation matter greatly, and that she and Assistant Principal Pat Lemieux spent a majority of the day listening to students. At the end of school today, a group of students made an announcement over the loudspeaker about their plans to stand against racism and homophobia, and encouraged the entire student body to get involved. Students are planning to wear orange and black for the rest of the week to show their support against hateful views, and sign a banner that will be used to welcome students to school on Friday.

School administrators are looking to be supportive to students who would like to see change and are actively looking to help. Bonneville encouraged students to speak up when they see or experience injustice. As the administration looks into finding long-term solutions for preventing hateful and disruptive situations, students are trying their best to support one another. Bonneville acknowledged that while the school’s efforts may not necessarily change the minds of those with hateful viewpoints, “we can change how safe people feel within these walls.”