Islamophobia is a Curable Epidemic

By Khayla Dixon

Islamophobia is an epidemic in post 9/11 America, and it is evident that school children are not excluded from this trend.

Islamophobia, the dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, has increased in the country since the September 11th attacks, and seems to be passing on to a new generation. In many parts of the country, Muslim or Arab students are mocked with bigoted, prejudice terms such as “terrorist” or “towel-head” (which denigrate their religious headdress).

In a Journalism class press conference, Ms. Trocolar, HHS psychologist, said, “Religion doesn’t play a role in public schools, but there is an effort to educate students. It is a place to learn about it.”

D Trocolar

HHS School Psychologist Ms. Trocolar

This offers a possible solution for Islamophobia; teaching others about Islam. By teaching students the principles and ideals valued by Muslims we can hope to discourage the hate associated with the religion.

During the press conference, Ms.Trocolar stated that though she hasn’t seen Islamophobia present in our school, she does not doubt it could be present.

Mrs. Shepard, an HHS social worker, also agreed, stating that she sees there could be “potential” for Islamophobia in our school.

Pat

HHS School Social Worker Ms. Shepard

An infamous example of Islamophobia in high school was perpetrated not by students but teachers and administrators. In Texas’s MacArthur High School, in 2015,  Ahmed Mohamed, a freshman, was arrested and accused of terrorism when he brought a homemade clock to school. This event captured America’s attention and brought awareness to the active prejudice sometimes present in our school systems.

In discussing Islamaphobic shamers, Mrs. Shepard stated that shaming “goes to the core of who you are.” This implied that those who shame others are dealing with insecurities of their own, and using bullying as an outlet.

HHS School Psychiatrist Dr. Dimitry asserted that one way to stop shaming was to make bullies “aware of the impact of their own actions.”

Dr Dimitry

HHS School Psychiatrist Dr. Dimitry

Dr. Dimitry commented on the long-term effects of bullying on those shamed, “What they’re hearing about themselves can carry through to adulthood.”

By addressing this and encouraging students to work to feel better about themselves, we may be able to reduce and maybe even stop shaming.

STUDENT OP-ED: Brussels Attacks – A Reaction

By Sarah Sturm

When I was ten years old, I stepped into Brussels International Airport, ready to see my cousins for the first time in years.

The culture around me was both exhilarating and beautiful. I was not afraid, and I knew I would be safe with my mother and sister by my side. Terrorism did not cross my young mind, and I did not think at that time that my being a Muslim would ever be an issue.

This week, over 34 people were killed and hundreds were wounded in the attacks at Brussels International Airport Zaventem and metro station Maelbeek.

Isis claims responsibility for the attacks, which were carried out by suicide bombers, but police have not confirmed this as yet.

Both the attacks and some of the reactions to these attacks are terrifying. Some people are calling for strengthened patrols on Muslim communities.

We now live in a world where many believe terrorism and Islam go hand in hand. The truth is that the attacks at the Brussels airport and metro station are absolutely devastating for both those directly victimized in the attacks and for the Muslim community.

While Isis is a very real threat to the world, they are also being used as a fear tactic in order to perpetuate Islamophobia. When catastrophes like this happen, it is important to remember that Isis is not a representation of Islam.

Islam works to promote peace, not terror and violence.

My heart goes out to all those affected by this tragedy.

remember Brussels

HHS Evacuations Prove We Are Well Prepared

By Curtis Gaines III and Alexis Norman

On Friday March 4, HHS was evacuated due to a bomb threat. Nine other high schools in Bergen County were also evacuated for the same reason. This marked the second consecutive week with a bomb threat disrupting classes and the third one this year.

While each were found to be false reports, concerns continue. Mass shootings have become a major concern in the United States. There has been a steady stream of debates between politicians about how to improve safety. Some argue that enforcing stricter gun laws is the answer. Others insist that increasing the availability of mental health evaluations will prevent acts of mass violence. In this tumultuous  environment, bomb threats are taken seriously to protect the lives of students.

Regarding response to these bomb threats, Principal Montesano stated, “We follow the direction of the police. While it seems like a hassle, it’s better to be safe than sorry. We take every threat seriously.”

When bomb threats are called in, students are evacuated to safe locations in the community. The police then bring in dogs to sniff for bombs or anything that could be a threat to students and teachers.

Each bomb threat lasted around two class periods with the one on Friday ending the school day.

At first there was a sense of fear and panic among students, but years of training kicked in. After three evacuations, students are starting to become frustrated with the threats, but are still treating it seriously.

“Our kids are pretty good, they see the big picture,” said Principal Montesano.

According to NJ.com, the recent bomb threats have all been sent by ROBO call from a phone number in California. No one has been caught in connection with the bomb threats, which is a felony. That makes the prevention of bomb threats a little more difficult.

“Last time it was fifteen (school districts) in northern [New] Jersey and a few schools out of state. So, I think it’s just someone wanting to get a kick out of it,” Mr. Montesano said.

One positive from this experience has been that the recent bomb threats have brought the school community closer together, as the whole school is affected and must act together for our collective safety.

EDITORIAL: With Everything We Do, We Demonstrate Who We Are

We are Hackensack.

Whether we are evacuating our school due to yet another bomb threat or marching in a parade or playing a sport or performing in a play or concert or competing in Destination Imagination or Academic Decathalon or even just buying a candy bar at the corner store, we represent our school every minute of every day everywhere we go.

In everything we do, we demonstrate who we are, what Hackensack is.

And people are watching.

Some have prejudices or hangups and want to think the worst of us. Some have fond memories of being where we are now. They want their legacy to continue shining. And some are strangers wondering how our actions will define us.

Overwhelmingly, we make the extended family of Hackensack proud of our casually awesome displays of personal character and dignity and leadership. We should acknowledge how well we represent the legacy of Hackensack.

Every once in a while, however, we stumble just a bit. When that happens, we should acknowledge the opportunity it presents; the chance to grow, to improve, to build upon the tradition of Hackensack as a school community that defies prejudices and negative expectations and forces doubters to reconsider just exactly who we are.

We are Hackensack.

HHS Reacts to #Blackensack Slur

By Kimberly Pena

Recently a photo was posted on Instagram with the racially insensitive caption, “For Klass #Blackensack” by a student from Paramus High School, clearly referring to HHS as “Blackensack”.

The photo sparked outrage when a screenshot of the post was uploaded onto Twitter with the caption, “Racism still exists nowadays.” It received 77 retweets and 42 likes on the social media site, along with comments from HHS alumni ranging from simple “wows” to “truly a shame.” The post also reached Facebook, catching the attention of many parents.

According to several sources including NorthJersey.com the post was also referring to former Paramus wrestling coach Steve Klass, who was relieved of his duties as coach last month for issues Paramus is as yet unwilling to discuss.

According to a story published on NJ.com, the Paramus superintendent of schools called the racially-insensitive post on a Spartans wrestler’s Instagram account “inappropriate and unacceptable.”

The news website quoted  the superintendent, Dr. Michele Robinson as stating, “Without question, the comment is not condoned by the Paramus Public School District and the Board of Education, nor does it reflect the views of our community.”

When asked “how do you think #Blackensack impacts Hackensack High,” HHS Athletic Director Petrella said, “The unfortunate use of that ‘stereotype’ by a Paramus wrestler is not new to students and athletes at HHS. Such displays of ignorance have been used by our competition for the 33 years that I have been a part of the Hackensack family. We have dealt with these types of things by competing with class and dignity. Our athletes use their actions to prove that ignorant comments define the person using them. The immediate impact was negligible. Many were offended by the hashtag, however, it did not prevent our athletics from practicing and competing.”

The HHS Comet News contacted Paramus High School Principal Raymond J Kiem via email for a comment, but he did not respond directly. Instead, he emailed HHS Principal Montesano, stating that he “appreciates the professionalism and the interest on the topic but cannot make any statements at this time.”

For the record, #Blackensack too narrowly defines our school. The truth about HHS is that this school houses students of many races and ethnicities. We have Latino, Caucasian, African-American, Asian, and can proudly proclaim ethnicities from all over the globe as members of our family.

EDITORIAL: #Blackensack? We Think Not.

HHS Comet News Editorial written by

Curtis Gaines III, Iris Ocasio, Sarah Sturm

A couple weeks ago, a Paramus High School student posted a photo on Instagram depicting a white Paramus Spartans wrestler and an African-American Hackensack Comets wrestler with the caption “For Klass #Blackensack.” The picture has recently sparked irritation in local social media due to its evident racism.

Paramus Superintendent Dr. Michelle Robinson responded to the “#Blackensack” post the following Monday, saying, “Without question, the comment is not condoned by the Paramus Public School District and the Board of Education, nor does it reflect the views of our community.”  

We appreciate that the school district is assuming responsibility for the student’s comments and we hope to see other schools support this view. Hackensack has feelings too.

In truth, Hackensack is one of the most racially diverse towns in all of Bergen County. According to a recent census, 34.2% of town residents are Hispanic, 30.3% are Caucasian, 23% are Black, and 12% are Asian. 0.7% of residents belong to two or more races, 0.4% are Native American, and 0.3% belong to other races.

Diversity is our strength. It unites our students while respecting differences within our cultures.

We invite all to celebrate our diversity with us.

#HackensackDiversity       #CometPride