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No Breaks For Osbourn High School

By Greg L | 16 December 2008 | Manassas City | 26 Comments

One tragedy comes to a conclusion for Osbourn High School, and another begins.  On the same day former teacher Ted Johnson is sentenced to twenty years in prison with all but four years suspended, there are reports that another student — I believe the fifth this year — is dead.  School officials sent home a letter with students announcing this tragedy and the availability of counseling at school tomorrow, but further information is not officially available, although the rumors are flying.  Tragic rumors.

The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star has the story on the sentencing of Ted Johnson and the typical excuse-mongering that is all the rage in criminal defenses these days.  Of course the bad behavior of some adult is a result of a bad childhood, meriting a reduction.  Hogwash.

A doctor testified that Johnson has responded well to treatment and now fully realizes the harm he has caused.

She said Johnson was in a “trance-like state” when he committed the offenses, and claimed his actions stemmed from offenses he suffered as a boy.

Hardiman scoffed at the doctor’s explanation and asked for a lengthy prison term.

Unfortunately the judge seemed to have paid more attention to the defense.  For molesting three different girls between the ages of twelve and thirteen years old, the guy gets to serve less than a quarter of his sentence.

Officials at Osbourn need to get a handle on what’s happening at this school.  There’s not a whole lot a school can probably do in a case like this, but you have to imagine there’s something that can be done to improve the climate and cut down on the number of tragedies.  This is a great school with a lot to be proud of, but instead of celebrating as often as they deserve, students end up mourning.

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  1. Emma said on 16 Dec 2008 at 10:19 pm:
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    This is becoming unbearable. My kids are extremely upset. What is going on with this school?

  2. citizenofmanassas said on 17 Dec 2008 at 8:19 am:
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    This is just sad. I just hope “our” kids are making good decisions and are realizing life is a gift that should not be cut short because of pressure or rash decisions.

  3. A Concerned Citizen said on 17 Dec 2008 at 12:17 pm:
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    We as a community need to speak out. What is happening to our children? Why is that suddenly ending your life is considered an option? What is going on emotionally with these students that think this is a way out?

    We need to figure out how we can prevent this from happening. We need to be involved in our kids - and the school system needs to find ways to identify emotional discrepencies. We need to work together to resolve this. It has got to stop!

  4. studentatosbourn said on 17 Dec 2008 at 2:45 pm:
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    It was Jackson Dale, he killed himself. It is horrible and tragic and apparently he got in a fight with a sibling and then killed himself. He always seemed so happy though, it doesn’t make sense why he would do this.

  5. A Concerned Citizen said on 17 Dec 2008 at 2:58 pm:
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    My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Jackson Dale. I recall his family well. His mother, a wonderful public servant of the community was a part of many of our childrens lives. I pray that she gain the strength now to help her through this difficult time.

  6. Emma said on 17 Dec 2008 at 3:48 pm:
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    Poor, sweet Jackson, friend to my daughter, may you rest in peace. Jackson’s mom is a pillar in this community and is known by most the kids. God bless her and her family.

  7. Anonymous said on 17 Dec 2008 at 4:16 pm:
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    Did you really have to name him? Doesn’t his mom deserve some privacy?

  8. TDB said on 17 Dec 2008 at 4:41 pm:
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    As Emma said, Jackson was a sweet kid. One of the few friends of my daughter’s that I actually liked. He could actually sit and have an intelligent conversation. I can’t begin to express my sadness over this tragic event. This has truly touched me to the core. He will be greatly missed. My heart goes out to his mother and father.

  9. Emma said on 17 Dec 2008 at 5:23 pm:
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    Anonymous, he has a name, he deserves to be remembered by those who knew him and are mourning him, and I’m sure this will be in the paper by tomorrow. Will you be criticizing the Post and the PN for publishing his obituary?

  10. f said on 17 Dec 2008 at 9:34 pm:
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    Of course not. Dolph only criticizes those on the “dark screen”…..
    what an ass! Go splash yourself into oblivion, Dolph Moon-howler whacko….

  11. Anonymous said on 17 Dec 2008 at 9:57 pm:
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    No, it’s a family’s choice to publish an obituary and to include or not how a loved one died. Their choice alone.

    I appreciate tremendously that Greg didn’t mention the family by name.

  12. Emma said on 18 Dec 2008 at 6:52 am:
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    Anonymous, really, did you have to choose this particular thread to troll? How sad for you.

  13. K.O'toole said on 18 Dec 2008 at 7:52 am:
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    I know a couple of teens who committed suicide (also unexpectedly) who were coincidentally on Accutane for acne. Is this stuff still being prescribed? http://www.monheit.com/accutane/problem.shtml

  14. Mighty Putty said on 18 Dec 2008 at 8:33 am:
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    I am not aware of the history of the school. Have there been five suicides this year at Osbourn?

  15. Emma said on 18 Dec 2008 at 8:50 am:
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    Four suicides now, one accidental death. Too much tragedy to absorb.

  16. DiversityGal said on 18 Dec 2008 at 9:53 pm:
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    Wasn’t it three suicides, one accidental death, and the suicide of one former student in front of her brothers?

  17. manassascityresident said on 19 Dec 2008 at 8:43 am:
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    Emma -
    I agree. I was in the school yesterday and these tragedies are really taking a toll on the teachers as well.

  18. Manassas parent said on 19 Dec 2008 at 1:14 pm:
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    These tragedies are happening in every school, not just ‘our’ schools. This is a systemic problem throughout all communities. The time has come for us all to get involved with each other, and not in a busybody sense. Think about the statistics of how many divorces have occurred over the 20 years. How far away families are from each other, emotionally and demographically. How young people have been let down by adults they trusted in their lives to guide them towards hopefulness. In addition, death is something that has become the ultimate in living. Much in young people lives have given them the notion that ‘life has little to offer me and I become someone in death’. Music has done it, crazy teen television has pointed it out. There is an emotional bankruptcy in at least 2 generations. The pressures and overwhleming feelings young people find themselves in is an overload for them to process.
    They have become obsessed with feelings and cannot navigate themselves by intellectually thinking it through. Unfortunately, their peers too often have become substitutes for their families and they discuss important issues amongst themselves rather than consulting adults they can trust and feel safe talking with. It’s the blind leading the blind. Granted, there are a few kids who have a strong mind and have good foundational, emotional stability in them but it is not the majority. We cannot expect todays youth to measure up to being the adult when in fact, they are still growing towards adulthood. OHS is planning a community forum to discuss mental health issues that are arising in turbulent times. Let’s all find our places at the tables to discuss solutions and ways we can become more supportive of each other.

  19. jfk said on 19 Dec 2008 at 2:55 pm:
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    Manassas parent said on 19 Dec 2008 at 1:14 pm: Flag comment
    These tragedies are happening in every school, not just ‘our’ schools….

    MP, I can’t agree with you there. This is not happening in every school. In fact, I don’t know of any school in the area where this has happened. There is something deeply wrong here, and frankly I would get my child out of the school ASAP. This is a taboo subject, that could easily become an option for kids going through hard times (as all teenagers do) when they see other kids who they know ending their own lives.

  20. OHSALUMNI said on 20 Dec 2008 at 4:24 pm:
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    Osbourn is a great school that has had tragedy befall it. It’s not the first time tragedy has happened there. Even when I was there we lost a classmate in a car crash. A car crash is far different though than a suicide. Kids are usually not intending to go out and wrap their cars around trees. Pulling a child out of school just because it has some hard times is to take a wimp approach to the situation. Any child who stays is worthy of the school’s Alma mater. “Firm and Undaunted Always Will Be” These are learning experiences that need to be learned from. What doesn’t need to be learned is that suicide is the only way out. That’s the wrong approach. What needs to happen is that there needs to be an outreach to those hurting kids. They need to be identified and they need to be helped. They need to be loved. School isn’t necessarily the place to go look for love and understanding, though they are there all the time. Kids need to get this at home and this isn’t always able to be the case. Kids are not going to get that from their peers. Kids need to be listened to and they need to get their self-esteem built up. I can tell you that after seeing all the stuff they have to do these days as compared to what I had to do when I was there, it’s no wonder many have their self-esteems in the toilet.
    Osbourn is strong and it will rebound. I’m considering going to the forum if I can make it. I’m going because I am an alumni. I do not have kids, let alone in the City of Manassas. I have worked with kids since I left that place all those years ago and maybe I can learn something and be of help.

  21. Emma said on 20 Dec 2008 at 6:31 pm:
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    Words of wisdom, OHSALUMNI, and well said.

    Perhaps it’s time the schools took a step back from teaching birth-control techniques, stripping God out of every corner of the classroom, revising the history books and embracing trendy ideas for teaching fundamentals like math. How about instead taking a hard look at how the kids are really faring? How are they treating each other? What does “zero tolerance” really mean, and to whom does it actually apply? What is the response to physical or verbal incidents that occur (more often than not) when the teacher’s back is turned? Why are bands of Osbourn children allowed to walk arm-in-arm, forming a chain and deliberately blocking the flow of students trying to make it to class on time, without any teachers noticing or intervening? Are there any adults in the house willing to stand up to these brats? As if our kids don’t have enough pressure.

    For so many children, school can still be a battleground despite the presence of resource officers and “behavior contracts” that we sign year after year.

  22. jfk said on 22 Dec 2008 at 2:14 pm:
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    OHSALUMNI said on 20 Dec 2008 at 4:24 pm: Flag comment

    Osbourn is a great school that has had tragedy befall it. It’s not the first time tragedy has happened there. Even when I was there we lost a classmate in a car crash. A car crash is far different though than a suicide. Kids are usually not intending to go out and wrap their cars around trees. Pulling a child out of school just because it has some hard times is to take a wimp approach to the situation.

    There’s nothing “wimpy” about taking care of your kids. I’ll say again, this many suicides in year is unheard of, and I would not subject my kids to it. It’s stupid to leave your children in an unsafe environment simply because you are an alum, or a because of a motto (not an alma mater). It’s obvious the school is not doing enough in this case, and I’d be damned if I’d put my kids at risk (and they are still kids, even in high school).

  23. Nikki said on 23 Dec 2008 at 11:45 pm:
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    God Bless his mother, father and siblings. Many times the siblings are forgotten about during these extremely difficult times. They need the prayers as much as the parents do. I’m not connected to Osbourn HS but I’ve been deeply touched by what’s been going on at this HS. My baby brother who was only 21yrs old passed away 2 1/2 years ago accidentally and these recent occurrences have greatly affected me. No one will ever know the deep pain of losing a child or sibling if you’ve not gone through it yourself. It’s a deep nagging pain that doesn’t go away day after day. It will always be with me but you learn to cope with the loss and start to remember the good times and happy memories. That takes time but it will come.

    Regarding earlier comments- I strongly agree with many earlier comments on the fact that our schools need to shift gears on what they are teaching and focusing on. They NEED to start thinking about these students - not only at Osbourn HS as our future and try to connect with each of them on a personal level. Teenagers more than anything need to learn how to build up their self esteem and self confidence. Once a teenager becomes confident they start to see the world in a different light. I don’t believe this type of multiple tragedy is common across American HS’s. But I do believe most high schools suffer losses in different forms.

    I am a new mom of a baby boy and my biggest fear is when he’ll become a teenager. There are so many pressures and influences outside the family unit. And a child who doesn’t feel comfortable having open conversations with his/her mom or dad will find other people to talk to. And personally, I think this is part of the demise of America. Parents #1 role is to protect, nurture and love their children. This should outweigh any other responsibilities that parent has. Such as, having a duel income household (unless financially they need to both work). But you could argue that point as well- downsize or God Forbid….. SACRIFICE your own wants for what’s best for your child. And in my opinion- being connected to your child is what’s best for him/her. In no way am I saying Jackson’s parents weren’t connected. I don’t know these people and from what I’ve read they sound like wonderful parents that are going through hell and will for the rest of their lives. I will keep this family and others who are and have gone through awful tragedies in my prayers.

  24. Emma said on 24 Dec 2008 at 8:10 am:
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    I hear what you are saying, Nikki, but it might be best to keep the “mommy wars” out of this discussion. The young man came from a WONDERFUL family. I know some lousy stay-at-home parents, and I also know working parents–and single parents– who are highly involved in their children’s lives and activities, and they are very often the ones who will step forward and volunteer when needed while others are complaining about how busy they are. I know plenty of working moms who manage to homeschool, are in charge of scout troops for their children, you name it.

    It is good that you are able to stay home with your little boy. Please embrace your choice and be the best mom you can be, without implying that parents who work are not making the appropriate “sacrifices” for their children that could ultimately lead to disaster. No one knows why this young man decided to take his life, but no one could ever say that his parents weren’t involved or “connected.”

    And personally, I think that there has been far too much emphasis on the fakey, Barney-like self-esteem credo that “everyone is special.” Building a child’s self-confidence begins at home, where he/she is taught life skills and independence that lead to confidence, and reinforced in school where the rules are enforced against bullying and ridicule. Throw out the troublemakers, and leave room for the kids who are willing to learn so that they can thrive.

  25. David's mom said on 30 Jun 2009 at 12:35 am:
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    as a long-time sahm mom of one of the students who is lost, let me say that anyone who thinks this boy wasn’t loved enough is an ass; he was the light of my life, my buddy, my rock star, and I have 5 living children but they do not take his place in the giant gaping wound that used to be my heart. Thank you for your opinions. If this THING could happen to my David it could happen to any of your children and I pray it never does. He was a GOOD sweet loving child and I will miss him unbearably forever, I will never “adjust and accept” as some think I should because that is unnatural and impossible. Would you adjust and accept if your smiling happy boy was suddenly gone one night with no warning?

  26. lovewillheal said on 23 Aug 2009 at 11:46 pm:
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    The problem is that many kids feel that there no one they can trust to talk to. If children could talk to an adult openly without the fear of being judged or casted aside as if the problem they are facing does not matter then maybe the amount of suicides would decrease. The adult could be anyone, a teacher, a parent of a friend, a coach, anyone could save a child’s life if they would just listen. And if you do listen to them, dont judge them or tell someone what they said. If they are homosexual let them be that way, if they are depressed listen to them and let them know they are loved and things will get better. Teach your children that everyone is different but that is what makes this world and this country such a wonderful place.
    Parents love their children no matter what. Sometimes they just dont like the way they live their life. If they are on drugs or doing criminal acts then help them, but if it is something they cannot control open your mind and embrace it.
    We get so wraped up in our own lives we forget that other people have problems. Let them know you are there for them no matter what. Smile more, even if you dont know a person, hug everyone, tell all your friends you love them. Maybe then these tragedies will end.
    Jackson was a big ray of sunshine even on the cloudiest of days. He will be missed and never forgotten. I only wish he knew he had sooo many people he could have turned to.

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