Face of College Guidance Terminated: What is Next?

Jayden Forniel, Editor-in-Chief

Before reading, I want to remind anyone reading this that it is okay to ask for help. If you or anyone you know need to talk about this, please visit the Grossman Counseling Center.

As the community is well aware, Didier Jean-Baptiste is no longer with us. This Op-ed will not provide the facts of this case but rather a different perspective than what has been offered.

A statement released by St. Benedict’s Prep (SBP) addressing the situation said, “Though no current or former students were involved, and the event did not occur on school grounds, an internal investigation has already begun.”

SBP responded swiftly regarding the situation by terminating him immediately. It was made clear that his actions are not tolerated, and he is facing the consequences for them. Although his tenure at SBP was invaluable, he does not define us as a community. One man does not hold up a community. He was merely a contributor to a greater purpose. We will continue to flourish in his absence.

This serves as a reminder that we have to lean on one another in this time of distress. It is completely normal to have conflicting emotions, such as denial, confusion, disappointment, betrayal, and even anger. By sharing our feelings, we gain clarity and feel the support of our brothers and sisters. Benedicts thrives off of lifting each other through empathetic support and shared experiences. This being a community-wide experience, it must be known that no one is going through this alone.

This situation connects with me personally through my experiences of disappointment in figures who were supposed to be my role models. It resembles the disappointment of my father. Growing up in Newark my family was not very well off financially. As a result of this, my dad resorted to selling drugs as means to get by and provide. With every poor decision made, there was a direct reaction to it. That reaction happened to be the most traumatic experience in my life to date. The weekend of my mother’s birthday, a S.W.A.T unit came with a warrant for his arrest and searched the entire house. I was woken up to guns in my face telling me to go to the living room. Presented in front of me was my father on the floor in handcuffs and my mother crying. From that moment on, feelings of resentment, confusion, and betrayal coincided with me. This experience forever altered the way I view my father and the authority figures in my life. It left me with an inability to fully trust others and be transparent with myself. This situation brought me back to this feeling, like the little boy I was. Although these experiences were disheartening, I did not allow it to deprive me of hope. Hope can be our driving force to not only get back to where we left off but, surpass our previous successes.

His absence leaves lingering questions for the seniors. Many feel demoralized and uncertain as to what their future entails. There has been chatter from students that the senior class is bound to fail with his absence because he was a key role in their college pursuit. This is completely false. Seniors, you play the key role. All he provided to you was facilitation. He made sure you got your common app done, recommendations, and checklists completed but, the countless hours you have dedicated to studying, training, and putting the pieces together since freshman year were all you. He is gone, we must accept it and still take care of our responsibilities. The little things getting done right have brought you to this point. Now is not the time to stop. This journey is yours, and you have complete control over it. Do not allow his poor judgment to play any factor in how much you dedicate yourself to your cause.

Just because he is no longer around to assist you does not mean the support system around you has diminished. It has grown even stronger in his absence. Faculty and alums around the school are ready to step up for you. Ms. Mueller and Mr. Scanlan are taking on a facilitating role, Ms.Tobias handling the task of college visits, Ms. Connolly is editing your college essays, and many more resources are available to you. So although we are facing a setback, we have built a community conditioned to persevere. We must be resilient in the face of adversity.

The world we live in is not perfect. We are destined to go through loss, tragedy, and disappointment in life. Uncomfortable situations will arise, it is not the circumstance that defines us but our response to what we face. We are not isolated in our struggles. God is our guide and primary relationship. It is through Christ that we overcome. When aligned with His will and purpose, human intervention materializes within our lives. My personal search for God, individual experiences, and intuition have led me to this perspective.