Did I read right? Gang fights at a Santa Clarita Valley high school? What's with that? Some say gangs and others say race, and still others say it was just a problem brought on the campus from a weekend party.
The school district said it wasn't gang- or race-related. The Sheriff's Department said it was gang- and race-related. So what caused the brawl at Golden Valley High?
It was most likely a whole bunch of both gang and racial tension at the school. That's what the kids told the newspaper. Go figure. The William S. Hart Union High School District must be taking public relations lessons from the White House. "Things are getting better at Golden Valley High, except for some scattered violence, gangs, guns and drug problems." (Now replace the words "Golden Valley High School" with the word "Iraq" — sounds familiar, doesn't it?)
Way back when, we didn't have gang or race problems at Hart High that could be seen. I know we didn't have gangs. We did have the Honby Men's Club. In the 1967 and '68 editions of the Hart High Tomahawk yearbook, a group of students paid for an advertisement. We brought various weapons to school — clubs, knives, bats and rifles — and at lunchtime, we went to our cars and got them. Posing behind one of the buildings near the parking lot, the Honby Men's Club was enshrined forever as a tough-looking "gang."
After the photo shoot, we took the various items back to our cars and went to class. Today we'd be facing many years in jail for the weapons we had on campus that day.
Click image to see who's in it.
But it was all in fun and for the good of the school. Not one person in the picture had a GPA less than 3.5 (with the exception of me and maybe John Boston). We were responsible individuals and were treated as such by our peers and the school administrators. Nothing was ever said about what we did.
(Maybe they didn't know the picture was taken on campus until today. Is there a statue of limitations covering such acts? If so, let me now say that the picture was taken off campus.)
Sure, we had our share of alcohol and other drug problems. It was the '60s. But gangs and violence? We were more "make love, not war"-oriented. Gangs were in Los Angeles, not the SCV.
I am convinced that not one single kid would get involved in gangs if parents took an active role in raising their children. Not one!
The first activity a parent should learn is the active use of the word, "no." That activity should continue until the child is raised and out of the house. Even after they leave home, such an active role should be used. I know I heard and abided by the word "no" a lot (except when I didn't, and suffered the consequences of being "grounded for life.")
What's with having a child transferred out of one high school and into another so that the child might "be more eligible for a sports scholarship?" That is the wrong reason for a transfer. "No, you've got to do the best you can in your school" should have been the words the child heard. Maybe the school board should revisit the Golden Valley High School boundary question. How it was put together has created one giant powder keg that could soon explode.
Here in Virginia — and of course in the SCV — you can go to any shopping mall at just about any hour of the day and find kids roaming all over. You find kids on street corners, in cars and just about any place but school. What's with that? I really think it is parents not doing the job they should. It is also the schools failing. Idle minds and idle hands make for idle kids. Not good.
Left on their own, those kids will form into groups that are the families they crave and the comradeship that schools used to give. Left on their own, they form gangs, find drugs and create the very problems we have seen the past week.
So then, the school district puts all those kids in one school. Any questions why the problems now?
And don't forget — your Los Angeles County supervisor, Michael D. Antonovich, has asked the county Commission on Human Relations to address the circumstances surrounding the "racial disturbance at Golden Valley." He also said he is taking action to prevent violence, ensure safety for school children and see that schools are free of racially motivated violence and disturbances.
Those lessons begin at home. Not in some L.A. County commission.
Parents, do you know where your kids are right now and what they are doing? If not, why not?
It is too bad the Honby Men's Club was disbanded. We knew how to rumble. Yeah, right!
Darryl Manzer lived in the Santa Clarita Valley oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s as a teenager. He now lives in Virginia. Read all of his commentaries at DManzer.com.