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Officials: Social media stokes school violence

HIGH POINT — Both students and parents keep spreading misinformation on social media that makes school violence worse and has led to unnecessary school lockdowns, Guilford County Schools officials said Wednesday.

That includes posts with videos of fights and rumors about them that have been reposted, inflaming problems, said Deena Hayes, the chair of the Guilford County Board of Education.

Hayes and Guilford County Schools administrators held a press conference Wednesday at Fairview Elementary School repeating information shared Tuesday night at a school board meeting about a sharp increase in school violence the past two years, but information about social media posts had not been part of the presentation to the school board.

Assistant Superintendent Mike Richey said there have been school lockdowns caused by rumors spread through social media that were incorrect.

Students or parents who hear of possible violence through a social media post should contact school administrators or law enforcement agencies rather than repost the information and spread it, he said.

Superintendent Whitney Oakley said that while false rumors have always spread in schools, “social media causes misinformation to spread more quickly.”

Social and mental health stresses stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to increasing violence nationwide, and that has extended into school systems, Oakley said.

“This truly is something we have to tackle as a community,” she said.

The GCS presentation on school violence trends showed that the number of high school students referred to school principals for discipline because of such things as fights and assaults shot up from 136 in August and September of the 2019-20 school year, before the pandemic, to 226 this past August and September, an increase of 66.2%. Violence also is up in middle schools, going from 422 students sent for discipline in the first months of the 2019-20 school year to 550 this year, an increase of 30.3%.

Hayes said she worries that because the number of guns has also increased — more than 890,000 were sold in North Carolina in 2020 alone, 68% more than were sold in 2019 — it may be becoming easier for students to have access to a gun.

“This is a very, very serious concern,” she said.

Last week, a high-speed body scanner at Dudley High School alerted staff to a student who had a gun — the first caught by one of the scanners, which were installed at all GCS high schools in August. The student was charged with felony possession of a weapon on school grounds and carrying a concealed weapon, the Greensboro Police Department said.

Christmas parade takes place Sunday
  • Updated

HIGH POINT — The High Point Holiday Festival Parade will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday on its traditional route through downtown.

The parade follows N. Main Street, starting at Green Drive, going north and ending at Qubein Avenue, formerly a section of Montlieu Avenue. Parade organizers say there are 140 entries and the festivities will take an hour and a half to complete.

Bleacher seating is available at the corners of Main Street and High Avenue and Main Street and Gatewood Avenue. Bleacher seating is limited.

Disabled people can view the parade from a reserved area in front of Sheraton Towers at 400 N. Main St.

The parade will take place rain or shine, though forecasters say Sunday is supposed to be sunny with a high in the mid-40s.

High Point has hosted a Christmas season parade since 1925. The parade traditionally is held the Sunday before Thanksgiving Day.

For more information, call parade organizers at 336-378-6350.

Home Depot markets long-dormant outparcel

HIGH POINT — More development may be on the way to a busy growth area along a High Point corridor.

A long-vacant former restaurant building on an outparcel in the 2300 block of N. Main Street in front of Home Depot was recently demolished. The home-improvement retail chain wants to develop the property for another business, according to Robbie Perkins, a commercial real estate broker who represents Home Depot.

“We don’t have a user at this point,” he said. “We’re excited to have the building gone and look forward to having a tenant on the site.”

Home Depot leases the outparcel from the property owner, Baker & Baker Real Estate Developers LLC of Columbia, South Carolina.

It’s seeking a “ground lease” arrangement where it would develop and own anything that’s built on the outparcel while continuing to pay rent on the land.

The building that was previously on the site had been vacant for about 20 years since the El Ranchito restaurant closed.

The building was condemned by the city in September after inspectors found decaying construction, unsafe wiring and a leaking roof.

The owner was responsive and moved quickly to demolish the structure, city Inspections Director Reggie Hucks said.

Several projects are under construction on this portion of N. Main Street, including a Panda Express restaurant, a new showroom and service facility for the Carolina Hyundai car dealership and a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen restaurant.


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