Glendale: Mending discord between students

Glendale News Press
March 26 2004

Mending discord between students

Community leaders and pupils say relations have improved, but more
can be done

By Gary Moskowitz, News-Press

GLENDALE – Differences among local youth – be it racial,
socioeconomic or just simple misunderstand- ings – have led to
tragedy in Glendale.

On May 5, 2000, Hoover High School student Raul Aguirre was stabbed
to death across the street from his school in what police believe was
a gang-related incident. Aguirre was not a gang member. The man
accused of stabbing Aguirre is Armenian American.

A group called We Care for Youth, which formed in 1992 to work toward
stopping youth violence in the community, offered Hoover High
students grief support after the incident.

Group co-founder Jose Quintanar said representatives from the local
schools, city, Glendale Community College and the community held
forums in the late 1980s and early ’90s, during which people would
meet in each other’s homes to discuss ways to improve relations. He
would like to bring the forums back.

“I think what [co-founder Linda Maxwell] and I face much too often is
whatever is going on at the home gets brought to school,” Quintanar
said. “The community needs to really start looking at their own
issues. We see how kids’ ideas of the community are formed at the
dinner table or in front of the TV when the family is together.

“I don’t think there are many students around who have the personal
experience of [the Aguirre incident]. But many remember, and it comes
up from time to time from kids who were in middle school at the time.
And they were deeply affected by it. Something like that has got to
scar you.

“I think [Aguirre’s death] brought people together, but it wasn’t
sustaining. Soon after, the emotion of it wore off, and we became
complacent,” Quintanar said.

“Could it happen again? I hope not. But are the conditions present?
Yes. Ignorance and fear of other people, and not knowing people,
exists. This is a large city now, and it’s harder to know people.”

In recent years, Hoover students created a Unity Garden and a
Friendship Garden on campus as a way of promoting peace and unity in
the Glendale community. Events like Aguirre’s death and the terrorist
attacks of Sept. 11 prompted students to create the gardens.

Hoover High senior Jessica Luevano said it is usually teachers who
bring up the Aguirre incident, not students. Teachers might mention
it in class when something new happens in the Aguirre case, Jessica
said. The case is awaiting a second trial after a Nov. 7 mistrial.

“If anything, I think it kind of brought us all closer together,”
said Jessica, 17. “There are bad people in every culture. I think
most of the fights we see here are among kids within the same race.”

Daily High School Principal Gail Rosental said that although some
parents tell her they perceive Daily – the district’s continuation
high school for students who are at risk of not graduating on
schedule – as the school for “bad kids,” she has few issues with race
and culture among students on campus. Students come to Daily from all
of the district’s comprehensive high schools.

“Because we are so small, nobody is invisible here, and we don’t have
the same kinds of problems the huge schools have,” Rosental said. “We
tend not to have intercultural tensions. When we do have tensions,
it’s rare, and it’s usually not rooted in ethnic problems.

“It’s usually more of a ‘You were talking to my girlfriend’ or ‘You
said something about me to somebody’ kind of thing. If anything, it’s
two people who used to be friends, and it’s social and personal.”