Take comfort, America, because today’s high school freshmen are just as immature as you were at the especially dumb age of 14. The difference is: These kids today have smartphones, and they know how to use them.
The kerfuffle that proves it all beyond the shadow of a doubt occurred on Aug. 28 at Memorial High School in Houston, according to local NBC affiliate KPRC.
Principal Lisa Weir invited freshman students at the affluent high school to an assembly in the auditorium. The plan was to allow individual students to ask questions anonymously, via their mobile phones. Then, the questions would appear on a huge screen in front of the room for the entire gaggle of 14-year-old kids to see.
Predictably, Weir’s plan became a disaster as quick as you can pop a blackhead. The students realized they could type any messages they wanted into their phones and those messages would appear on the big screen.
And thus did immature chaos soon ensue.
“Im hungry [sic],” wrote one student.
“Miley Cyrus for president,” wrote another.
Other messages which appeared on the auditorium screen at the assembly included “Sexy boots,” “When ur stoned af” and “hi welcome to chillies [sic].”
“Vaping saved my life,” still another student wrote, in an ode to e-cigarettes and possibly marijuana.
Other 14-year-old students took the social media capture profane levels.
There was a lot about sex, which shouldn’t be too surprising.
“Jesus is a lie,” wrote one student.
And, of course, some students decided to be bigoted morons. They used the impromptu hijacking to compose vile, vicious messages involving racism, anti-gay slurs and other depravity (e.g., “Hitler was a good guy”).
“STAHP,” a student wrote at one point. (The word is a meme meaning, basically, stop doing something terribly wrong.)
“This screen was a bad idea,” an especially judicious student eventually commented.
Weir, the principal, duly sent an email to parents of Memorial High students. Houston ABC affiliate KTRK-TV recently obtained a copy.
“To give you context about the assembly, here are the facts,” Weir wrote. “In an effort to gain feedback from freshman students about their first week of school, we used online ‘Today’s Meet’ technology. Students were invited to type questions on their phones, which were then anonymously projected in a scrolling manner on the screen. As I shared with freshman parents via email that afternoon, we were disappointed by many of the comments. Many were racial, sexual, and just plain offensive.”
In response to the freshman assembly fiasco, the principal added, she asked all teachers at Memorial High to “have a conversation with their students.” All freshmen were also subjected to “follow up advisory lessons.”
“This was a teachable moment for all of us,” Weir wrote. “We assumed the best of our students, and when some of them let us down, we responded. As I told freshman parents in the email to them that day, raising up this next generation of young people, especially in the age of social media, is a daunting task, but together, we can make a difference.”
Shrewd senior Rachel Robertson offered her thoughts on the incident.
“It was a bunch of kids trying to get, like, attention,” Robertson told KTRK. “It’s just, like, the crazier stuff they can put up there, the better.”
Some parents and grandparents were aghast.
“If you can’t say it to your mother, don’t say it at all,” admonished one student’s grandmother, according to KPRC.
Other adults saw the fracas differently.
“They had an opportunity to type up a bunch of ridiculous things that were going to go up on the big screen and they took it,” another parent told KTRK. “They are in the ninth grade, what else were they going to do?”
Follow Eric on Twitter. Like Eric on Facebook. Send education-related story tips to email@example.com.