21 Aug 2014
74° Humid and Mostly Cloudy
Patch Instagram photo by patch

ETHS 'Moment of Silence' Ignites Emotional Debate On Violence

ETHS students were asked to observe a moment of silence following former student Blake Ross's death, prompting criticism from some Patch readers. Patch opinion columnist Christine Wolf reacts.

ETHS 'Moment of Silence' Ignites Emotional Debate On Violence

In the early morning hours of Mother’s Day, . Ross was a former student at Evanston Township High School. The following day, a PA announcement informed students at ETHS of Ross’ death. A moment of silence was called for, and grief counseling services were offered.

Patch posted a story about his death and the moment of silence--and then the comments started flying.

For more community conversation and Evanston news, like Patch on Facebook.

Why was ETHS involved at all? The [guy] was a gang banger and the school has no obligation to glorify him. As a past graduate, current resident, I could care less that he got shot. Let Chicago deal with it. The Board of Ed should reprimand the Superintendent for his action,“ wrote Michael in the comments section.

You seem to know more about Blake then I do and I'm his cousin,” wrote Toinette. “The school didn't have to [recognize] Blake bcuz the family didn't ask them too...but bcuz they did we appreciate it…especially since Blake's little brother attends ETHS.”

As of publication, there were more than 100 comments – many of them emotionally charged -- regarding the announcement at ETHS.

What I’m amazed by is why anyone would be opposed to the announcement in the first place. Someone’s child was killed in a shower of bullets near Rainbow Beach Park on Mother’s Day. He may have been a bad kid. He may have even made poor choices. He may have also been trying to break out of horrors we’ll never know. The fact remains that a former classmate died…and the school acknowledged his passing.

Gege H. wrote: “Reprimand the superintendent for what?? Regardless of the fact if he was a gang banger his LIFE was brutally taken. He had family and friends that loved and cherished him and now he's gone! ... I guess an A+ scholar's life should be glorified if he was shot and killed because his grades and what he does makes his life more valuable right?

Dusty wrote: “Are we not a community here? When we loose a child any child. It should sadden us all. We as a whole have failed our child. It still takes a village...” to which Hal responded, “We didn't lose a ‘child.’ He was an adult.”

Evanston – the first suburb north of Chicago -- is no stranger to gun violence. This year, my son, a freshman at ETHS, has heard more announcements regarding the passing of current and former ETHS students due to gun violence than I can even count. Understandably, residents have had it, because time and again, the story is the same.

Daina wrote: “It is sad that the subject of debate is, the appropriateness of the moment of silence not how we can make a change in our community to prevent further violence against and by our youth. A young man has been killed , it does not matter what his involvement is in crime or the whys right now as a community we need to embrace our youth and console them. That is what ETHS was trying to do, give the students a moment to grieve and try and feel better , do you understand how upsetting these acts of violence against our youth effect our children? These children feel shell shocked as one in/or who has suffered from a war, they feel like they are not safe in their own skin , nor their neighborhoods, the ones not traumatized by it are numb they have buried at least one of their friends per year since their teens(at least my older children have) they are hurting. ETHS deserves praise for recognizing the hurt their students feel not bashed.

What upsets me most is what’s behind a comment like this from Hal: “At 18 I didn't need "mentors" to tell me to get a job and follow the law. That is something I and most people learn when we're 10 years old. I didn't need a "village" to tell me that--my parents did that. I did not know Ross, but I can tell you I feel no responsibility to "mentor" a serial criminal. I would stay as far away as possible from people who willingly engage in drug dealing and theft, thank you.

Sounds like Hal had parents who guided him and the wherewithal to figure it out early and the instincts to stay away from trouble.

Good for you, Hal, but not everyone’s that fortunate -- or even thinks the way you do, especially when you make comments like this: “Most normal people can distinguish between legal and criminal activity by the time they are 10--certainly by the time they are 18. “ Why do I think this? Allow me to introduce you to...

Reese Witherspoon, age 37

Rod Blagojevich, age 56

Martha Stewart, age 71

and … Bernard Madoff, age 75 

I don’t know about you, Hal, but I'm 45 years old and I make mistakes all the time. My three kids do, too, and my friends and I often talk about how exhausting it is to redirect, inform and educate our children on proper behavior. Some parents cannot – or will not – make this time or effort.

But let’s be honest. If a woman leaves her abusive partner and works 100 hours/week to afford a roof over her children’s heads, who helps her keep her kids on the right track when she’s not around? If a father of three suddenly finds himself widowed and overwhelmed by depression, who looks out for his kids’ well-being until he finds his strength? These aren’t hypotheticals. I know these people…and they’ve managed to raise amazing individuals because others in their communities cared enough to help their kids.

Daina wrote in the aforementioned column, “THEY ALL ARE OUR CHILDREN,” and I couldn’t agree more.

For every moment of silence taken for the Blake Rosses in this world, I wish we'd each take another moment to consider ways of breaking the cycle of violence.

Share This Article