The Moral Decline Of My Old High School
When I first entered Portland Oregon's Grover Cleveland High School in 1969, the Vietnam War was in full rage. Many of the best students became politically involved in opposition to it, and this inspired more serious study of politics by many. At the time, I didn't often agree with some of these positions as it seemed that America's foreign policy would be undercut by such a policy of "cut and run" from Vietnam despite the fact that the war seemed to be headed nowhere. Today, America finds itself involved in a similar quagmire. This time I'm out in front of efforts highly critical of this war, but I'm once again still very wary of leaving the effort without leaving a stable government in Iraq able to stand on it's own before American troops exit. But for high school students, this serious discussion of politics or the morality of life and death issues surrounding war proved to be a be a valuable part of the educational experience. War proved to be a powerful teacher in moltivating study by students and was a worthwhile part of the high school learning experience.
At the same time a negative culture existed. There was a place near the gym where a number of students chose to skip classes and stand around and smoke cigarettes. This area was so designated, "Cancer Hill", representing a area of lost souls, who probably graduated on to low paying jobs, drug addiction, crime or even prison. It was a regrettable and sad dumping ground for some lost souls.
I graduated high school in 1973, and "Cancer Hill" still existed at the time. But it was as bad as things were at the time. But 10 years later, in 1983, I drove to McDonald's to get some lunch to take to my TV shop, but on the way out, "Cancer Hill" had grown dramaticly, and the next entire street was blocked with a huge throng of young hoodlums who refused to allow traffic exiting McDonald's to use the street and proceed. I waited a couple of minutes and finally honked because I wanted to proceed through the street and get to work. But the crowd almost rioted at this turning angry and arrogant and spat on my car. This was an appalling display of the moral decline of far more students than the 1969-1973 days of a few losers at "Cancer Hill". This out of control situation soon led to police actions to control the situation. For a while a heavy police presense and a crackdown prevented such large groups from loitering or using or selling drugs at the "Cancer Hill".
A few years later, gangs had grown at Cleveland. In McDonald's parking lot, police stopped a car that was going to challenge some Asian gang members who had a trunk full of guns. Had the car not been stopped, then a potential gun battle at Cleveland near the "Cancer Hill" area with many deaths would have likely taken place. This was an outrageous degeneration of the moral values of some of those attending Cleveland High School.
Yesterday in Portland, some of the students at Cleveland took a new moral decline as two of three students attending Cleveland were arrested for the attempting beating death murder of a man in Sellwood Park. The teens, as young as only 15 years old, were apparently intoxicated and beat the man so severely that much of his skull had to be removed to prevent the damage from brain swelling, and the man is nearly braindead and in a probable permanent coma from the attempted murder.
From 1969, Cleveland's student problems went from a few smoking and skipping classes to gangs, hardcore drugs, guns and attempted murder. Parents should take a better role of responsibility in their child's lives. Churches need to be more active in inspiring good values. The moral decline of some young people should not continue if there is to be hope for a civil future society. Skipping school to smoke was bad enough. But to recent decline to guns, gangs, drugs and attempted murder have gone way too far.