Report by Paula Antolini
April 3, 2018 7:12PM EDT
‘A Reflection on March 14th’ BHS Essays for Protest Discipline Were Due Friday, or Students Get Suspension; Will This Be Only Punishment for Breaking School Rules?
Thousands of students across the nation, including approximately 100 Bethel students, rallied virtually together on March 14, 2018, in the #ENOUGH! National School Walkout, hosted by the Women’s March and Women’s March Youth, to protest gun violence and hold a memorial for the 17 Florida school shooting victims, by participating in a “walkout” while school was in session.
On Thursday, March 29th, it was announced over the Bethel High School public address system that an essay assignment for discipline entitled, “A Reflection on March 14th” would be due by 3:30 p.m. on Friday, March 30, 2018, and the assignment could be handed in digitally (there was no school on Friday due to Good Friday) according to Principal Christopher Troetti’s announcement. Apparently this task was assigned to all offenders who broke school rules during a March 14th protest, according to Troetti, with some exceptions.
Image: “A Reflection on March 14th” discipline assignment.
Troetti said other disciplinary actions were taken for some other students who committed other offenses, but he did not mention what those offenses or actions were. We do know that a truck belonging to Bethel resident Carmine Iapaluccio was damaged by students who threw snow balls and a piece of Asphalt at the vehicle and window, according to Iapaluccio, and Bethel Police, who say the case is still under investigation.
Image: Post on social media by Bethel resident Carmine Iapaluccio who claims his truck was damaged by students during the March 14, 2018 protest.
There is no word on what, if any, the next procedure will be regarding punishment for walking out of the building and/or off campus on March 14th, the day approximately 100 BHS students decided to disobey school rules to participate in the national #ENOUGH protest of gun violence.
Bethel Police also had the task of protecting students that day, both on campus and in town, which included closing off roads where necessary and police vehicle escorts for various lines of students walking in roads. Bethel Police closed off School Street in front of the CJH Municipal Center, and blocked other roads as needed, when First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker emerged to commend the students for their actions and urged them to register to vote at the municipal center that day.
Photo: Bethel students protesting in town on March 14, 2018.
Three students registered on March 14, 2018, and approximately another 33 students registered in the end of February during a Registrar’s event at BHS, according to Registrar Tim Beeble.
It appears that this essay could be the only punishment, as students were instructed to write this essay (which contained five “Questions to Consider”) or receive “a day of in-school suspension” if they did not hand in this assignment by the deadline of March 30th.
Photo: Bethel High School Principal Christopher Troetti.
Originally Troetti released an email stating that “the students” (did not indicate whom) agreed to participate in an “advisory” session that would be a memorial to the Parkland Florida, Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting victims, and also let them have “a voice”regarding gun violence, when “student leaders” (did not indicate whom) would be allowed to statements to other students who decided to participate (as audience members) at the advisory event. If a student did not want to participate they were given the choice to stay in the BHS media center study hall.
However, after Troetti’s first email was released, that described the advisory event, it was discovered that students were secretly planning a protest to occur after the “advisory” that March 14th morning, communicating via Snapchat. See image below.
Image: First Snapchat communication between students, discovered by administration.
Troetti then released a second email this time describing school offenses rules, and disciplinary measures that would be issued to students by the school, should they break those rules.
A second student Snapchat communication was circulated among students urging them to still protest after the advisory event. See image below.
Image: Second Snapchat communication between students.
On the day of the protest, students burst our of several entrances of BHS directly after the advisory session, many carrying protest signs and shouting loudly “Save Students Not Guns”and other phrases, walking quickly on campus. Some students then chose to walk off campus and into town an other locations.
Photo: Bethel students walking on Route 302 with police car ahead of them (on wrong side of road), during March 14, 2018 protest off campus.
In subsequent days only the essay assignment was issued as punishment to students (with some exceptions as mentioned above) instead of the previously mentioned discipline from Troetti’s second email warning.