Editor's note: John Hopkins Middle School in St. Petersburg has a student newspaper called the J.Hop Times, which has been named the best middle school newspaper in the nation three years in a row. The newest issue, published today, features this student editorial, written in response to the recent news coverage regarding the high number of arrests at the school.
In the old days, John Hopkins used to be recognized for our award-winning newspaper, superior music programs, outstanding artwork and Broadway-bound drama students. Lately, we have been known for the outbreak of fights and high number of arrests.
The media and community view us as "bad kids." But the truth is only a few "bad" students are weighing down the good.
It's up to us if we want to save our reputation. It's now or never.
At the beginning of March, J.Hop was in and on the news for five days in a row. This made school life rough for students and staff.
"If you think that camera from Bay News 9 likes you, here's the truth. They like you to act a fool and give them stories," sixth-grader Kenyon Ford wrote in a letter to the J.Hop Times editor. "I for one am tired of this drama and the state looking at us like we're a bunch of dumb, ignorant, violent vandals. If we come together now we can be better. ..."
To get to that point, we've got a long way to go.
Because of our current reputation parents are having second thoughts about sending their children to J.Hop. According to the school district, last year 1,020 parents applied for our magnet programs. This year 570 applied.
But when it comes to quality, some things haven't changed. Just this year:
• The drama students scored superior ratings;
• Art students received Gold Key awards;
• Eleven eighth-grade students competed in the county History Fair;
• Foreign language students got 22 superior ribbons in World Language Day competitions;
• The school orchestra earned the highest ratings possible in the MPAs (the Musical FCAT);
•And the girls' basketball team was south county champs. Again.
Though there are many positives, we can't ignore the negative things going on.
The students here need to step it up. Let's get our reputation back by doing the little things that can make a big difference. That means getting to class on time, helping staff, being more civilized and stopping arguing with each other.
Every student has the potential to make this happen. Now is the time to clean up our act. If we want to change this campus we are going to need a lot of help; but it starts with me and you.
The members of the J.Hop Times editorial board are 8th graders Brad Bell, Symone Brown, Kimberly McEntegart, and 7th graders Anthony Edwards, Reggie Flournoy, Julian Gonzalez and Kahil Holmes.