The annual Spirit Week pep rally, always a raucous assembly, turned dangerous last Friday, when at least one student was hit by an airborne "D" battery that was lobbed by another student.
"Unfortunately, after a very successful homecoming week we did have a few students engage in very inappropriate behavior during the pep-rally that necessitated the school take immediate and severe disciplinary action," said
EGHS Principal Michael Podraza via email.
The father of the student who was hit said his child suffered a "welt" from the battery, but it was not a serious enough injury to prevent participation in after-school activities Friday.
"They called me, they called the police. They apprehended the kids, they punished the kids," said the father, who asked to remain anonymous. "I think it was handled as well as it could be. In a large group, you’re going to have a few knuckleheads."
The two students who were identified as the battery throwers have been suspended.
Traditionally, the freshman class has been the whipping boy during the pep rally, greeted with chants of "Go back to Cole" – a reference to Cole Middle School. One freshman contacted for this story said he was warned all week long about the pep rally.
"When we got in there, all the freshmen were scared," he said.
"We were appalled," said the boy's parent. "D batteries can cause real injury."
It's unclear why batteries were thrown. According to the freshman boy, a student next to him got hit with a messy open-face sandwich.
After the batteries were thrown, school officials stopped the pep rally and said the Homecoming Dance would be cancelled unless the perpetrators came forward. Two students were identified and the dance took place Saturday night as scheduled.
On Monday, there was an assembly for the Freshman class to talk about the pep rally.
"We ... took the opportunity to reassure them that what happened at the pep rally was not indicative of the student body of EGHS and that all faculty, staff and administration would take all necessary steps to ensure that this type of behavior would never occur again," he said.
The two freshmen contacted for this story said they were reassured by the assembly.
"I felt good they were taking precautions so people don't get [hurt next year]," said one.
For Nicholas Rath, teacher advisor for the Student Council, which organizes Spirit Week activities, the incident was one bad mark on an overall positive week.
"The homecoming activities throughout the week were extremely positive. The students were exceptionally well behaved, spirited and full of enthusiasm," Rath said. "The same can be said for the Pep Rally. Unfortunately, there was an isolated incident involving a few students who made the bad choice to throw batteries toward another group of students. This was dealt with swiftly and the students have since received appropriate disciplinary action."
One parent of a freshman said she was surprised there had been no communication from the administration to parents about the incident. But for the parent of the student who was hurt, the situation was handled appropriately.
"If the school didn’t discipline the kids then I would have had to do something," said the father of the 15-year-old who was hurt. "The school did their job and I’m satisfied."
Principal Podraza said he thinks there won't be this sort of problem in the future.
"I am confident that we have a plan in place to ensure that the 'Go back to Cole' chant that occasionally arose during pep rallys will be permanently eliminated from the EGHS homecoming culture."