An alleged incident in the Warsaw Community High School cheer block at a football game and a resulting Twitter feud have cast a negative light on the student section.
On Sept. 9, WCHS hosted a varsity football game against Elkhart Memorial. The student theme for the night was “America” due to the weekend remembrance of 9/11, according to Warsaw Community Schools Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert in a statement this morning.
The Warsaw Junior ROTC presented the colors prior to the game, adding to the intended patriotic theme.
Numerous school administrators and law enforcement officials were on duty throughout the game. No complaint concerning student conduct was made to them. WCHS is not aware of any complaint being made by that night’s opponent, Hoffert said.
Then on Sept. 16, school administrators received an email from a person who did not attend the game, expressing concern that national presidential election themes were used by a student cheer block Twitter account. This twitter account was owned and controlled by multiple students and was not sanctioned by WCHS, Hoffert stated. School administrators immediately began an investigation into the alleged incident.
“Meanwhile, social media stories of the incident then began to grow and contained numerous inaccurate accounts and fabrications of alleged hateful or negative actions by WCHS students,” he said.
Throughout the day, many of the conversations on social media turned to national politics. A statement was made by a WCHS alumna of her disappointment. A student responded with a statement of being ashamed the post writer was an alumna as well. That comment was the student’s personal statement and was not sanctioned or authorized by WCHS, Hoffert said.
In a letter to the Times-Union Saturday from Lisa Pett, who now lives in Wisconsin, published in today’s edition, Pett wrote, “As a WCHS alumna, I often hear from family and friends back in Warsaw about how the school is doing. So it’s not a surprise when I found out about an incident that occurred after WCHS’s football game against Elkhart Memorial on Sept. 9. What was a surprise was when I checked WCHS’ cheer block Twitter feed and found a blatantly racist reference to Donald Trump politics in a post from @WarsawCheerBlck that said ‘Nothing like ‘Merica Night!’ Followed by the hashtag ‘#buildthatwall.’ I expressed my shock and dismay in a Twitter reply saying how ashamed I was to be an alum at that moment.”
Pett also provided a screen grab of her exchange with Tiger Nation (@WarsawCheerBlck), which responded, “we are ashamed that you are an Alum too. We take Trumps political policies seriously. And we LOVE AMERICA AND EVERYONE IN IT.”
Her letter continues, “Everyone except the Latino students attending WCHS, apparently. What better way to insult a hard-working addition to Warsaw’s community than to embrace division, racist politics at a high school football game and on social media.”
She said she spoke to Hoffert who assured her that the students would be dealt with.
“I feel, though, that it will be impossible for him to address the root of the problem – and that is the racist, xenophobic attitudes of some of the parents. Way to make the community proud,” she wrote.
In his statement this morning, Hoffert said, “Due to the controversy, the students voluntarily shut down that student-run social media page. Appropriate conversations and actions are happening as to the proper use of social media.”
He said WCS possesses numerous anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies to ensure the safety and respect of all students. If any person observes conduct that could be considered a violation of those policies, that person should immediately contact WCHS.
“WCHS appreciates the support of its students, which is a critical component of our school’s success. We are confident that their support will continue and in a manner that will represent both them and WCHS appropriately,” he concluded.