Students Create Vulgar Wi-Fi Hotspots During Assembly


Sam Ketchem

A student holding a phone while looking at the wifi.

Alec Mullen-DeLand, Staff Writer

On Thursday, November 29, GP students entered the main gym, and watched the Winter Pep Assembly. As the assembly neared its end, Principal Larson was made aware that many students were finding Wi-Fi hotspots with racist, violent, vulgar, antisemitic, homophobic, and threatening messages. Principal Larson stopped the assembly, and told students that they were “not in any immediate danger,” and abruptly dismissed the students back to their second period classes. Students, confused and concerned, returned to their classrooms in a panic.

Just after the assembly, in Publications class, students had a confused substitute teacher who raced to his next class, leaving panicked students to discuss rumors about what happened. They heard rumors of a bomb or shooting threat, as violence-suggesting messages were seen. Not sure what to do without a teacher, students treated this confusing, scary incident like a lockdown by securing the doors, pulling down the door shades, and waiting for an announcement from the administration. An announcement came several minutes later, but the lack of communication created panic and a feeling of danger and confusion.

The assembly incident quickly reached the broader news media in the area. Students and their families, as well people from around the state heard and talked about this incident.

Students from the publications class took a field trip to a conference at Everett Community College the next day. Many were embarrassed to hear other students from schools around the state discussing the racist incident at GP.

A week and a half after the incident, Principal Larson said that “we are not talking about a lot of students who were involved, but it does not matter if it’s one or one hundred, it’s time to talk about it.”

On Tuesday, December 11, support for students who felt fearful or discriminated against was made available, and later that week there was an assembly during Grizzly Period, where Principal Larson and a parent spoke about the incident. Some students and families felt administration took too long to discuss the problems.

The next step for students and administration is to treat the toxic school environment. Student and staff workshops have been planned, focusing on equality and anti-discrimination to rid the school of discrimination, hatred, and fear.

To prevent this incident from reoccurring, phone use in the gym during assemblies will be strictly prohibited.