H-F working to rebuild community after allegations of sexual assault were made public

Assault allegations came out on October 31 after the school day ended.


Picture by Grace Russell

Student holds up sign during school-wide walkout

The H-F community has been working to rebuild community after allegations of sexual assault were made public on Oct. 31.

The alleged assault took place on Monday morning, when a student was attacked by a classmate while practicing lines during their first period theater class. 

The school reacted to the incident by sending out an email to parents and students on Monday afternoon saying the school is ¨fully cooperating with the law enforcement investigation.¨ They later sent out another email inviting students to an open forum discussion about the alleged assault. 

At the forum on Nov. 1, students were broken up into groups with faculty and counselors to discuss the issue at hand and possible solutions which were shared with the principal and other administrators attending the meeting.

Students shared their frustrations and concerns with this being the second year in a row with sexual assault allegations in the school. 

¨We need to talk about what our problem is as a student body,¨ principal Clinton Alexander said during the event. ¨We also need to talk about making [H-F] a better environment.¨

Students expressed their concerns about their safety in the school. Students also discussed solutions to make the school a safe and comfortable environment. 

Many students are eager for the school to build its community and foster a community of non-violence and consent. To voice this opinion, students walked out of class on Nov. 4. 

Approximately 250 students participated in a school-wide walkout, which was allowed by the school administration.

¨[Walkouts] can be a little disruptive to the school day and learning so I’m not a fan of them but I understand the rationale for the walkout and so it is my job to support my students’ First Amendment right [and] to keep them safe during the process even though I didn’t agree with the method,¨ Alexander said.

Students walked to the end of campus where parents protested across the street by the CVS. The police started blocking Kedzie Avenue from cars passing after students and parents began protesting in the middle of the street.

Protesters set up microphones and speakers to start chants and spread their message. One of these people included senior Aaron McIntire. 

¨I already expected H-F not to follow through, all this did was prove that,” McIntire said. “So now I know it’s up to the students themselves to make sure follow through happens.¨

Many of the protesters are scared and angry that an event like this could have happened on school grounds.

¨We really need to see a change in the H-F administration. We need to see more action¨ one student said.

So what is the school doing to make students feel more safe?

According to Alexander, the school has had meetings to discuss if they need more staff or more cameras around the school.

H-F has sent H-F students and families a total of eight emails about the incident between Oct. 31 and Nov. 4. 

One of these emails includes a timeline of the day and reestablishes the school’s dedication “to lead with compassion and transparency and always keep the best interest of students at the center of [the administration’s] work.”

This letter also warned against misinformation and the gossip that is currently surrounding the story.

“Unfortunately, not everything that has been shared is accurate,” the letter stated.

The school has been vocal in their plan to work to make school feel safer. 

¨We feel that we have a comprehensive plan that we are going to publish really soon to the student-faculty and community stakeholders to make sure they understand the plan that we are going to have moving forward,¨ Alexander said. 

Administration has come forward and with a plan to have another meeting with students, similar to the one held on Nov. 1.