Eastside video stirs different reactions
Published: Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 5:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 5:43 p.m.
Opinions on a video made by students at Eastside High School have varied in the month since the video was produced.
Administrators and school officials have dismissed the nearly 15-minute movie, which features students speaking candidly about their feelings on Eastside, as a misrepresentation of the culture at the high school. The video also includes footage of campus fights and classroom disruptions.
Some students have agreed that the reaction has been overblown but that the footage is not too far from reality.
Some community leaders say that, regardless, the controversy merits a community-wide discussion on how to best serve all the students of Eastside High.
Superintendent Dan Boyd said the video doesn't represent Eastside or the school district at large. He compared it to a racially charged video that went viral in February of last year in which two Gainesville High School students said derogatory things about black students — a video that he said, like this one, wasn't representative of the school itself.
“I frankly gave it the attention that warranted it: zero,” he said of the Eastside video.
Boyd said he suspects that the student who put the video together was the one who had a clear vision for it in mind.
“I doubt the other kids had a clue what was going on,” Boyd said. “He encouraged them to do those antics.”
That student is Darrin Gillins, who formerly attended the Institute of Culinary Arts. He shot the video before moving away from Alachua County to live with another parent. He posted the video after leaving.
During a segment of the video, Gillins filmed Artavia Hutto, 16, in the back of a chemistry class.
In an expletive-filled rant laced with insults, she complained of the teacher's body odor.
On Friday, she said she was just goofing off in class for the camera while not knowing Gillins would post it on the Internet.
“I can't really blame him, because I let him record me,” she said.
Hutto said she later apologized to the principal and to her chemistry teacher, saying Friday that she was “ignorant.”
A number of students, including Hutto, were suspended for involvement in the video, but it is not clear for how long and on what specific grounds the suspensions were handed out.
School officials have cited privacy of student records in declining to comment on any discipline that has resulted from the video. Other students involved did not wish to speak to The Sun.
Karen McCann, president of the Alachua County Education Association, said she sympathized with the teachers shown struggling with disruptive students in the video.
“You saw two teachers trying very hard to get the attention of the class, and (the students) were being very disrespectful,” she said.
She added that she felt the video is not indicative of everyday life at Eastside, though she said some elements that may shock those who don't work with young people didn't surprise her.
“What campus anywhere in the United States has never had a fight on campus?” she said.
Hutto echoed some of McCann's sentiments.
“It was kind of disrespectful,” Hutto said. “In my opinion, I don't think it's as bad as everyone is trying to make it out to be.”
Amid the community buzz about the video, the African American Accountability Alliance took notice. The organization announced a March 4 community forum, scheduled at 6:30 p.m. at the Alachua County Health Department, to discuss the movie.
Juliun Kinsey, chair of the 4As education committee, said regardless of whether a larger cultural issue is revealed by the video or whether it deals only with a small group of students acting out, it still merits a community dialogue.
“What about that small fraction of students? Do we just neglect them? Do we not support them the way we support the students in the (International Baccalaureate) program?” Kinsey asked. “Do we just say, ‘Hey, that's just a lost bunch?' ”
Contact Joey Flechas at 338-3166 or email@example.com.
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.