As a current student of Presentation High School, I ask that you stop the witch hunt.
I ask this because I am tired.
I am tired of my own teachers— the brilliant and kind-hearted men and women who have crafted me into the person that I am today — feeling constantly scrutinized, lacking the words to reassure their already panicked and ill-informed students that all is well while we face attacks from all sides.
I am tired of walking to my car every day passing news trucks parked outside my school while reporters make claims that the place that has raised me and fostered me is suddenly “unsafe.”
I am tired of inquiries wherever I turn: What happened? Who are the teachers who have been accused? Do I know them? Am I friends with the students who came forward? Have I ever felt uncomfortable at Presentation High School?
I can’t answer those questions.
Here is what I can tell you:
I have attended Presentation High School for the past three years. I have grown up here. I have attended countless admissions nights, spilling out my heart to any poor middle school student or parent who will listen to me about how much I love my school. I have spoken to the woman who news reports slanderously accuse of covering up sexual assault. I have seen her shed a tear reminiscing about her years at Presentation High School and the young women she’s encountered.
I feel safe, and I feel loved. When I’ve encountered faults, I’ve always felt comfortable bringing them to the administration and have seen tangible changes made. My heart bleeds when I hear painful accusations against the place I love, the place I live, and the place I grow. I can only imagine the confusion for freshmen who have been forced to walk blindly into a storm of controversy where it’s hard to find a landing without a grounded knowledge of what Presentation is truly like, rather than what public opinion paints it to be.
Presentation High School is attempting to cope and grieve, but it’s nearly impossible when each day seems to bring more and more harsh speculations. In a day, whispers turned a single accusation of assault into rumors that there had been hundreds of reports.
I understand your frustrations because I feel them, too. I’m faced with questioning whether or how an institution so devoted to the empowerment of women could really have done what everyone seems to believe they have. These are uncertainties I will likely never be able to answer simply because of legal restrictions on what we can and cannot know. However, your accusations only hurt Pres girls who would rather be grappling with finishing their CRPs and finding time to canvas for Food Drive than whether or not they feel safe in their own school.
To all the current and former Pres girls: don’t let this ruin Pres for you. Don’t doubt the educators and environment that reminded you how strong you really are.
To all the parents doubting whether they should be sending their children to Pres: do it. I can think of no other place that could have fostered me to be the empowered woman and human being that I am today. Presentation has introduced me to the best people in life — both students and teachers — and I can firmly state that there is no other school I’d rather attend.
To the Presentation faculty: you have done good work. When we were new, you held our hands and taught us how to walk. Today, you have empowered us to become advocates for ourselves and for others. You have inspired our awareness of our own agency. Today we fly because you showed us our wings. Nothing will ever change the lasting impact you have had on the lives of every Pres girl who has tread our hallowed halls and donned our honored plaid.
And to everyone else: let the administration and the police resolve what must be done and please, please leave Presentation High School alone. Leave judgements to the people who have access to the full story, and trust that they will adjudicate justice.
I do not absolve my school of its wrongs, nor do I even pretend to be able to know enough of what is going on to make any concrete statements. The past few weeks have flipped my world upside down and twisted it in so many ways that I barely have space to breathe, let alone think.
It is because of this that I urge you —if not for your love of the school, then for your compassion for those who attend it — to end the witch hunt on Presentation High School and allow our community to process on its own.
**This article is entirely an expression of my own beliefs and is in no way affiliated with official statements released by Presentation High School.**