By Ralph Hardin A Commentary
Late last week, my boss comes into my office and begins telling me about this video someone had sent him. He then invited me into his office to look at said video. Let me preface all of this with a couple of things: First, we are living in the digital age. If it happens, there’s a good chance there’s a picture, or in this case, a video of it, especially if tech-savvy teens are in the vicinity. Second, once something hits the Internet, it’s there forever. OK, so this video, titled “Biology,” was on YouTube. Just so you know, everything is on YouTube. And a billion or so videos are viewed every day on YouTube and its various similar cousins, like Vimeo or Dailymotion. So “Biology,” which as of Friday had been viewed over 800 times, features a classroom, purportedly at Marion High School, with a classroom full of students listening to some hip-hop number. You can watch it yourself at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dkm_Xr327ik&sns=em. A good number of those students are dancing and bebopping along, which quickly devolves into standing up, including standing up on classroom desks. There are some weird sidebars, too, such as a student hanging out in a display cabinet and such. At one point, a student removes his shirt. Virtually every student that is not actively participating in the shenanigans has his or her phone out recording the events, for posterity, I suppose. One, whose user name on YouTube is DankStorm[YDG] (it’s a drug reference. Hilarious, I know, right?), was so moved by the performance, he decided to upload it to YouTube. The upload date says Jan. 11, 2016, so whenever it happened, it was before then. If you made it to the end of the video, next up in the auto-play queue was another offering from DankStorm[YDG]’s library, this one entitled “Tyrese vs. Bryson.” Well ol’ Dank (Mr. Storm?) was so impressed with this one, he provides both regular speed and slo-mo versions of the footage. In this one, dated Oct. 26, 2015, two teenagers (Tyrese and Bryson? I’m not going to speculate) are having a full-on fist-fight in the classroom. Again, this is purported to be at Marion High School. If there are doubts, I’d direct you to the Marion School District ID badges that come flying off during the fight. You can catch this one at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-UUavPEoyo. Well, by late that evening, the video started popping up on Facebook. It was posted to the Marion Police Department’s Facebook page, and a few others went directly to YouTube to “share” it with the public. I revisited the video Friday morning. “Biology” is up to over 7,000 views now. The companion piece has a little over 1,500 (I guess getting to view the second one is a reward for one’s amazing attention span) It’s going to go viral. It’s going to be an embarrassment. And I hate that. I was contemplating covering it as a news story. I also contemplated ignoring it completely. In the end, I couldn’t do either. Like many of you, I went to Marion High School. Like many of you, I have a kid who goes to Marion High School. Like many of you, I have a vested interested in what goes on at our local schools. So, I watched the videos. Then I watched them again. Then the word started spreading and I watched the reactions. I’m not worried. Could this have been a disaster? Yes. Some student could have been hurt. With that much chaos, something even worse could have happened in those classrooms. But it didn’t. Sources tell me the students involved in the fight were suspended (I heard 40 days more than once, so that’s probably accurate). The substitute teacher (yes, it was a substitute, not a regular certified classroom teacher) was dismissed. If you’re under the impression that this is a typical day in the high school classroom, it’s not. It’s not typical at Marion, or at West Memphis, or at Earle. This was a case of a substitute teacher losing control of a classroom. There’s a lot that goes along with being a substitute. You’re basically there to baby-sit, and kids (even, or perhaps especially teenagers) will get away with whatever you let them. Should you be angry? Probably. Is it the end of the world? No. Is it an indictment of our local schools? Not really. I’m always reluctant to run anything that makes our schools look bad. Yes, bad things happen at schools. There are bad kids. Where do you think bad adults come from? But those schools, schools all over Crittenden County, are filled with good kids, too, and teachers and administrators who walk into those buildings everyday and do the best they can to teach, guide, mentor and lead those kids in the right direction. Our students play in the band, and act in plays, and sing in talent shows, and bust their butts on the ball field and in the classroom every day of the school year. Someone should post a YouTube video of some of that. Ralph Hardin is the Editor of the Evening Times. The opinions contained in this column are his alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Times ownership or publishers.