Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Middle school meltdown

Emanuel Guadarrama
Alexandria and Rosa Garcia on the morning of April 1.

“She was a very obedient kid… very intelligent. Whenever I’d go to a meeting with teacher’s, the teachers would always tell me that they were proud of her,” said Downey resident Rosa Garcia, while describing what her daughter was like during elementary school.

“She liked to compete, to win diplomas and she liked to do merits to receive recognition,” said Garcia however due to Covid 19 her daughter would have to spend her remaining years at Gauldin, in zoom meetings to attend class.

Alexandria Garcia however found herself having to attend middle school in person which would prove to be an experience that would profoundly alter her life but not for the better.

Before Alexandria, Garcia also had another daughter who attended the same middle school, she described the transition from Gauldin to Doty as being a drastic change.

She’d occasionally go to their offices to plead for her daughter as it turned out she was being picked on by other girls who wanted to fight her after school, “In Doty, everything changes,” Garcia said.

“With Alexandria I had more serious problems… she met ‘friends’ right then and there, with others who went to Doty and they began giving her cigarettes (vapes and other drugs) so she could hide them,” according to Garcia, they’d do this because Julianna didn’t look suspicious and would therefore not be searched.

Garcia described the current state of the school as being horrible due to faculty and staff losing control. She mentioned how an ambulance was once called in due to three girls who had overdosed, how there are physical fights among girls, Alexandria having been involved in a few.

It’s become apparent that there’s been a deterioration and loss of certain cultural values within these institutions. Rude behaviors and manners which are looked down on, still are but have become a common occurrence when attending these schools.

One key aspect of any culture is learned behavior, this includes the values and habits that an individual would pick up from their environment. Which includes imitating behaviors seen from their parents and also what they see online on their devices.

Within some middle schools from the U.S, these learned behaviors have manifested themselves through a lack of respect for authority figures, like teachers and a disregard for the school’s rules and policies.

This has become the new norm within these schools, a culture that lacks values and etiquette, it’s the environment that changed Alexandria and the environment that she still finds herself in.

“Seeing the people around me and wanting to fit in,” was what started the cycle of her behavioral issues, Alexandria said.

Alexandria made several friends, “Some of them turned out to be two-faced and fake and just a bad influence overall. But some of them turned out to be really good friends that are always there when I need them to be.”

“I got into a few fights and was always tardy and wouldn’t keep my grades up,” said Alexandria while talking about her experiences in middle school, “My bad friends, they had a big influence on me, like they were trying to control me and like, tell me what to do.”

Apart from the fights and disruptive behavior Juliana developed, she essentially became a courier for what she thought were her friends, she’d hold onto their illegal substances and she wasn’t the only one in the school doing so.

Alexandria would eventually end up having been caught in possession of drugs and suspended. This became a turning point in her life, she had her phone confiscated and her parents wouldn’t let her out of their sight without some kind of supervision.

She would then do what she could to turn her life around, everything seemed fine until she passed out one day during her P.E class. The coach, along with the teachers and staff were initially dismissive of her situation, as they assumed she had simply overdosed.

They of course called an ambulance but because of them even the paramedics were under the pretense that she had overdosed which stopped them from giving Alexandria the medical attention she needed, since they were all set on getting her to admit that she had taken something.

It turned out however that Alexandria didn’t drink enough water that day and was dehydrated which was the reason why she had fainted, her older sister also had a similar kind of medical condition.

The school however had already suspended Julianna as they were still under the presumption that she had overdosed but after her mom gave them the doctor’s note, they immediately revoked the suspension.

“I don’t really blame them cuz I had a past where I did take one but them to just assume I fainted because of a drug and try to suspend me without asking what had happened was not professional from the teachers or the staff.”

After another incident involving other students that Alexandria had disassociated with, the school and her mom decided it would be best for her to be transferred to another school, for her own safety as the school could no longer guarantee her safety at Doty.

“She wasn’t safe anymore… they transferred her to help her but also to protect her,” Garcia said, “Julianna was very respectful with her teachers but now they were speaking very badly about Alexandria.”

“With the change in school from Doty to where she is now, there has been a positive change. She has some friends, healthy friends who don’t want to pressure her into doing drugs or hiding… In the other school she hasn’t gotten into any problems until now,” Garcia said, referring to how now her main issues are simply tardiness.

For Alexandria however she doesn’t feel as though there’s been much of a change, even though she hasn’t gotten into any serious trouble, “It’s still kind of the same environment,” Julianna said while also explaining that the reason she hasn’t had any incidents yet is probably because, “I haven’t got a chance to meet that much people yet. It depends on what type of people you meet.”

This is not to say that she isn’t still trying to turn a new leaf but it’s important to note her experiences and current situation still haven’t changed due to the multifaceted factors that are impacting these schools and their students.

Things such as a Covid-19, Alexandria and Garcia explained, from closing down schools, stores and prohibiting social gatherings led to an increase in anxiety levels for all students. This led to unhealthy and prolonged uses of phones and other devices among both kids and adults.

“It made them more lazy, more rebellious, I guess, more anti-social, anxiety definitely went up during quarantine times and it just made them more immature,” said Alexandria even though she wasn’t excluded from these effects.

Then when in-person classes opened up again, students could no longer live without their phones without disrupting classes and this is without even mentioning the effects of social media.

This would of course impact teachers and their own mental health as a lot of them struggled running their classes with disruptive students.

A lot of teachers, Alexandria said, no longer care if students are on their phone, she also said that some teachers could be very mean to kids and that some kids, “Will give back what they receive from that teacher.”

This of course leads to a very chaotic environment for teachers and students who actually want to learn. Then when parents are called in they don’t always help alleviate the issue, said Garcia.

Some parents will in fact, fight and argue with the teachers and staff, even if their child is obviously in the wrong.

Just like how there isn’t one problem or person that can take all the blame, there isn’t simply one solution and things are easier said than done.

For one students need to learn self control when it comes to phone usage and they need to respect their teachers. For that parents will have to step up, be more strict with their kids and be an example for their kids to follow. They also need to be more engaged with their kid’s education.

As for teachers, their ability to teach unfortunately relies on the student’s willingness to learn therefore they’ll need to have an adaptable teaching style that can capture and retain a student’s attention.

Ultimately addressing all these challenges requires a collective effort and a sense of urgency in the sense that we need to create a more positive and effective learning environment since these kid’s futures depend on it.


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About the Contributor
Emanuel Guadarrama
Emanuel Guadarrama, Co-News Editor
Emanuel Guadarrama is the returning news editor for Talon Marks, who’ll be covering any and all newsworthy events or stories on campus. When he isn’t working on his news section, he enjoys listening to various genres of music and reading. He also likes going on hikes, walking with his dog and spending time with his friends and family.
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