Saving Empehi: When The Headlines Hit Home


The best and brightest come from Morgan Park High School on Chicago’s South Side, including yours truly. We call it “Empehi” (MP High) and we have athletic and academic rivalries with our fellow Vincennes Avenue neighbors Julian and Simeon.  Yet, recent headlines would cause many to believe there’s a battle within.

Last Wednesday, a 16-year-old student set off fireworks, caused structural damage and injured 10 students. The most troubling part is that you can hear students laughing on the video. In an age where tragic events are occurring often in our schools, it’s heartbreaking to see kids finding humor when this stuff happens. To be honest, it’s damn near frightening.

I graduated from Empehi the year that student was born. When I attended the school, the scariest event was a threat of violence in May 1999 (2 weeks after Columbine) that turned out to be a hoax. Now, some kids think that security scares are cool. Many in Generation Z are so desensitized  because of their consumption of the wrong kinds of media. As adults, I think it’s time for us to control the narrative.

Back in February, we saw students from Stoneman Douglas High School respond to their tragedy with unity. They reminded us that the woman for whom their school is named–Marjory Stoneman Douglas–was a fighter. Some people foolishly accused the courageous students of being crisis actors, but the truth is that they showed us how to “react” and remain “proactive” when there’s a crisis.

A Charge for Empehi Alums

We have to teach our youth that you can’t applaud stupid antics. Let’s reinforce the good that’s going on at our school. I’d rather highlight the notable alumni including astronaut Mae Jemison, singer Jeremih, and ChicagoNow contributor Sylvia Snowden (my classmate). Folks who want to tear up the school don’t belong there. Great Empehi students must reclaim the spotlight and show the world what our school can do. I plan on getting involved very soon and I hope many will assist me.

The lyrics of Empehi’s school fight song should become an anthem for change at the school: 
Empehi, Empehi, we are loyal/ Empehi, Empehi, we are true/ We will fight for your colors flying/ For the green, for the white, and for you/ As our team marches into the battle/ We will cheer for your victory and fame/ Empehi, we are ever faithful/ and proud of your glorious name. 

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