VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A middle school principal says students have engaged in a hateful dialogue against minorities in the days following the victory of President-elect Donald Trump.
Alex Bergren, principal at Princess Anne Middle School, says he has identified about 10 students who have victimized their classmates with comments like: “You are going to be sent back to your country now” and “we are going to build a wall in the school and put you on the other side of it.”
Bergren notified parents of the roughly 1,500 students at the school Sunday night after several incidents took on “a serious tone.”
“Regardless of their background, every student needs to feel like they are coming into a place that is safe for them, where they can learn,” he said.
Sandra Bolanos and Scott Meeks say they are disappointed the disrespectful language has been used in their daughter’s school, but they say it serves as a learning opportunity for everyone.
“It’s not okay. It’s going to make people, especially minorities feel scared.” said Bolanos. “I want people to know that this is happening in our neighborhood. This isn’t some isolated event that’s only happening out in rural parts of Virginia or other parts of the country.”
Bergren says the school will launch a “We Are Panthers” campaign to “engage students in defining the values and behaviors that make us proud Panthers.”
The principal is also asking parents to talk with their children to address the important importance of being kind and respectful to other students. He also wants students to understand there are consequences for threatening students.
“Sometimes what you say requires thought, and if you actually think about what you say you may realize it’s not that hard to hurt somebody,” said Bergren. “We’re not just teaching content and skills. We teach citizenship and leadership and we’re trying to look after the whole child.”