Students at Portland's Grant High School are arriving home Monday afternoon with two publications in their backpacks. They'll have the latest copy of the high school magazine with more than a dozen pages on hazing and bullying.
Those problems put Grant in the spotlight for weeks. They'll also have an eight-paragraph letter written by the students -- including victims -- who were part of an altercation last month.
Six junior varsity basketball players were in the locker room the night of January 12th. Two have been identified as assault "victims." The other four served suspensions, last month. One of them was later expelled. The five teenagers still at Grant engaged in mediation. Together they crafted a letter that's going home with students Monday.
The letter doesn't go into detail about the January 12th incident, though at one point, the students write "our wrong was in not recognizing that it was going too far, not stopping it, and silencing our voices."
The media and Grant High's rumor mill have offered theories of what happened in the locker room. The open letter and a package of stories in the Grant magazine are responding to those accounts. Julia Comnes is one of the magazine's student editors.
Comnes said, "The problem with a lot of the stories that were reported before this, was that they were just trying to gain readers. They were kind of inflammatory. They wanted to get people talking about it. They didn't exactly show both sides of the story. We were trying to take a more objective take on it."
So, eight juniors and seniors dug into what happened on January 12th, and why. Their final package and the open letter were folded together and distributed Monday morning.
Hanna Olson says she interviewed one of the victims. She says he's doing fine.
Olson told OPB, "He says there has been a few incidents, but the administration has overall been really supportive, which he was pretty surprised about. He wasn't sure how they would take it. He says he's really glad about how this experience went, I guess, coming forward. Everything has been working out pretty well, he says."
The magazine reported that this victim was also harassed online by a Grant sophomore. She was subsequently suspended. The sophomore spoke to Grant High reporter, JJ Miller.
Miller explained, "She did at first say that her comment was taken out of context and blown up to an extent that it was not in her mind. However she was able to take a step back when she was brought in by the administration."
The magazine also reports that a Portland police investigation at Grant has concluded and no students will be charged. But a police spokesman says the investigation is ongoing.
David Austin is the faculty advisor for the Grant magazine, and a former reporter at The Oregonian. He says his students are doing a better job at digging into what's really happening at Grant, than the mainstream media.
He suggests that the students are in a world that adults can influence, but only to an extent.
Austin said, "Kids don’t feel like most adults are in their orbit, anyway. What matters is the peer group and I think this incident helped all of us sort of re-think what should be a response, when something like this comes forward."
Principal Vivian Orlen has come to a similar conclusion, and she's looking to student leadership positions -- like team captains -- to help.
Orlen said "I have to say, I privately wonder, if team captains had stepped up and done something differently, would this incident have ever happened?"
The student-journalists, though, concluded that adults have a vital role to play. Ryan Yambra is one of the magazine editors. He says an interview with an expert from Syracuse University taught him that hazing is an outgrowth of cultural rites of passage, that in the past were run by adults.
Yambra explained "Today, on some high school sports teams for example, where children do conduct those rites of passage, they tend to be unable to register -- because they're not as developed in their heads -- what are the immediate and long-term consequences of what I'm doing."
Yet, the reporters found that athletes have an awareness of a "line" as they call it, between what's acceptable and what's not. It's not always a clear line, and not every team sees it in the same place.