LO Compliments now generated by LOHS students
While cyber bullying at Lake Oswego High School got much attention in the media last week, some of the school's kinder teens were quietly countering the negativity with a different anonymous Twitter account called LO Compliments.
The Compliments account began about the same time as, according to a police report, several students were retweeting a racial slur about former teammate, sophomore Mar-queese Royster. The new account sends compliments to its peers:
'you're great at sports!'
'you have amazing creativity. you will go very far in life.'
'you are truly an inspiration to the people of Lake Oswego.'
Twitter has surged in popularity among teens in the last year or so, and sadly along with that bullying can now have a compounded effect.
'The trouble with this social media is that it doesn't take but a few people to get this whipped up in a way that you don't want,' said Superintendent Bill Korach.
The tweets to Royster were sent from two anonymous accounts: One containing a racial slur and one from Faux David Lovelin, which uses the name of LOHS assistant principal. The person or persons who started these accounts still has not been found out.
One tweet from the account containing a racial slur, which was retweeted by four students, said that Lake Oswego is 'a lot better without' Royster, who transferred to Lakeridge High School in January. The other commented about his smell from the Faux David Lovelin account, and six (including one repeat tweeter) retweeted that message. The students involved included members of the Lake Oswego High School state champion football team. As of last week, three students were suspended for their behavior.
Royster's mother, Annalisa Royster, said that her son has been targeted by his teammates since last October regarding his football play and that the attention is perhaps rooted in jealousy. Royster, who is African American and Latino, was named to Team USA's under-17 squad and will participate in a development week at the University of Texas this summer.
'Football for him doesn't just start in August. It's pretty much year round,' she said. 'He has to prepare and lift and stay in shape.'
Royster has been attending football camps since the sixth grade and hopes to play Division I college ball someday. After playing on last fall's Lake Oswego High School Championship team, Royster decided to transfer to Lakeridge partly due to the bullying that was occurring. Royster will play football this fall for the Lakeridge Pacers.
Annalisa Royster said she alerted LOHS administration in December about the Twitter messages, but that the administration told her that they are not aware of what happens on social media outlets.
When the racial slur and the comment from the Faux David Lovelin account appeared in late Feburary, Annalisa Royster again contacted the LOHS administration, who encouraged her to contact the police.
Since then, officials aided by the police have been in pursuit of the person who originally opened the two fake accounts. Thus far, officials have not been able to catch that person or persons.
'Our focus has been on finding those responsible as well as raising the issue and consequences of social media abuse with all of our students,' LOHS principal Bruce Plato wrote in a letter to parents last week.
Annalisa Royster noted that there are still a few people who have not been supportive since the media attention last week. Some of Marqueese's peers have ignored him at workouts, she said.
'I don't know if it's just that they don't know what to say or just don't want to be seen talking to him.'
Additionally, though no more racist tweets have been posted, 'there have just been undertones of trying to place him in a bad light,' she said.
But the sad part to her is she does know the names of the players who retweeted the racist message and yet 'their parents have still not made them apologize,' she said.
Meanwhile, many in the community have been very warm in the days since the story broke, said Annalisa Royster.
'He's been well received at Lakeridge,' she said. 'I think the students and administration are going out of their way to make him feel welcome. They were when he got there, but they're just reinforcing that now.'
Annalisa Royster added that she also has younger children and that the schools have handled the issue appropriately with them, as well.
'We have had some people reach out to us in support of all races and colors, and we do appreciate that,' she said.
The Roysters moved to Lake Oswego when Marqueese was in the seventh grade for the same reasons many families do: 'It's a small community, and it's a great school system, and that's why we moved here. I love living here,' said Annalisa Royster. 'I hate that this happened to one of my children, but I still believe that it is a great school system and it's a great place for them to grow up safe.'
Plato reiterated with parents in a letter that the hateful messages are the behavior of just a few students.
'Though I am appalled by the action of a few of our students, I am gratified by the reaction of most,' said Plato referring to the LO Compliments Twitter account.
So, while some are being anonymous to spread hateful messages, others hope to recreate a positive atmosphere at LOHS by using anonymity (and humility) to spread kindness.
'... I am so proud of this school and the way that our students have come together and supported each other each day through the good times and the challenging times we have experienced. I continue to have confidence in the prevailing moral character and sense of justice of our student body,' said Plato.