Sanders addresses fighting at North in exclusive Q&A


Jacob Zalis

Incidences of fighting among students rocked the school Thursday, March 31 as videos of two students clashing in Newtonville began to emerge. At least one other fight occurred within the building. Most of the arguments that started the fights emerged from social media posts. Freshman Dean Aaron Sanders, whose class contains most of those involved in the altercations, spoke with The Newtonite on steps the school is taking to prevent fighting in the future and how fighting impacts the school as a whole. Below is our conversation, edited for clarity and concision.


Q: Do you think that fighting is a common thing at North?


A: Fighting is definitely not a common occurrence here at North. I can’t remember the last time we had a fight here at North. So it’s a rare occurrence. It’s surprising. Honestly, the two incidents are very surprising because it’s definitely not a common thing here.


Q: Do you have anything you’d like to say to students and teachers who were shocked or scared by this?


A: First of all, it’s always a sad situation when students are involved in a fight and settle things by fighting as opposed to having a conversation or using adults  to help mediate a situation. So that’s troubling. I hope that it’s an isolated incident and that we—Deans, administrative staff,  and staff—will reinforce that that is not the way to handle a dispute, by getting into a physical altercation. Am I concerned about it continuing? No. I think the adults will reinforce the message that students should not engage in fighting. We will work to send a strong message that fighting will not be tolerated here.


Q: Are there any other actions that the administration is taking to ensure that fighting does not continue?


A: Yes, we will ask families to reinforce our message that fighting is not a solution to settling disputes. We will also reinforce to our students that fighting will not be tolerated. For students in disputes, we will encourage them to use restorative practices to repair the harm caused towards others and or the community.


Q: Can you elaborate on the impact that fighting has on the community and how it affects North as whole?


A: Our number one goal as adults is to make North a safe place for all students. And when we have a situation like a fight, then I’m sure it can feel unsettling and unsafe for many students. And so that’s how it mostly affects Newton North. Students question their safety here in our school environment: ‘Newton North is not an environment that’s conducive to learning because students are afraid or fearful for their safety.’ And so I think the safety piece is the biggest for how fighting affects the school at large. It causes students to feel unsafe in a school of almost 2200 students. For students that feel unsafe, that’s a problem that we, the adults, do not want. And so therefore, we’re going to do everything we can to rectify and reinforce that that’s not ok, to have fights here in school.


Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?


A: I think it’s an important message that we will send out to students and to reinforce to those students, for students to use adults. If it’s a situation where they need help to go to a trusted adult in the building, we can help support them so it doesn’t get to the point of students getting physical. We can work to mediate.