(Feb 2000) Martin Luther King Jr high school has been the focus of the media. Many of the school’s students were upset about this representation. “They blew this whole thing out of proportion,” said Luis Frazier, a sophomore student at Martin Luther King.
We learned the media slanted its reporting. HarlemLive found out through many interviews the real facts and how the conflicts went down.
Three episodes happened in recent weeks. One was a fire in the auditorium that was caused by an electrical malfunction. Another was based on a somewhat explicit article read by a young student. However this article had been read for several years without incident or attention. Finally, the incident that drew most of the media’s attention was a sexual act in one of the school’s bathrooms involving three girls and four guys. This was reported to be gang related. In fact, although there was a self described gang member present, the ‘event’ was not in any way gang related.
Natasha Bartlett, a junior, said “I feel … the media is … doing a very bad job … They are portraying our school to be worse than it really is. When they come to interview people, they don’t interview the people who know about the school . They interview the freshmen and the people that don’t really know [what’s happening].” Natasha said she has always felt safe at King. Many students echoed these thoughts saying they also felt safe.
“The things the public hears in the news, we do not experience that at all in school. There aren’t any gangs members roaming the school like the media said. In fact, many of us are unaware of gangs being in our school. This school is a perfectly safe place although some things did happen [recently].” The media shouldn’t judge our school based on a few incidents,” said Alexander Jackson.
As a student of King, I notice the media never talks about the academic achievement at King. The incidents could have happened in any other school. Despite those incidents, many of us feel that our high school is a wonderful place to be. We have terrific teachers and school safety officers who are dedicated to giving us the best education and security possible. We consider our school to be a community, a family, and a diverse cultural environment. Many of the students in the school know each other and we interact positively on a daily basis. The students, despite the put-downs, should not feel uncomfortable to let the world know that we attend MLK.
But the media’s representation of our school does affect us. Many of us hate the thought that our high school is considered one of the worst when, really, that’s not the case. If no one is bothering you, then there’s nothing to worry about. “They say that 213 incidents occurred in the school last year. I’ve been in here for 3 years and that information seems incorrect,” said Mercedes Morgan, a junior.
By the media saying that the incident that occurred in the bathroom was gang related only brings more pressure on us, and more police officers have been stationed at King. The press often makes a big deal about little things that happen. When a fire broke out in the auditorium recently, the next day’s New York Post had a headline, “Horror High School.” That is ridiculous.
“It was very unfortunate what happened, but the main concern is for the school to be safe and for my students [to be able to] learn. It is the job of the administration to provide a safe environment for the safety of students and teachers. I became a teacher to provide those needs and I’ll do my best 100% to do so,” said my gym teacher Mr. Marini.
Believe it or not the media does affect us and the way people think about our school. It’s unfair to us and to the teachers that work so hard. Read Peterson’s own thoughts on the Media Hype
Editor’s note: Although MLK high school is located at Amsterdam and 66 St , in Manhattan (not physically in Harlem) most of its students are Harlem residents.