Student's objection to controversial NHS pep rally leads to positive change - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Student's objection to controversial NHS pep rally leads to positive change

By Donna McCollum

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - When Mollie Garrigan watched her high school cheerleaders perform a pep rally skit last month she immediately questioned the presentation. Garrigan said,  "The whole idea of portraying our team instead of winning against the other team, we portrayed them as killing the other team." she watches a video of the skit.  Students portraying the opposing team drop to their knees. Toy guns are brought out depicting a shot to the back of their heads. Then the limp bodies are dragged into a pile. All to the theme of the Good. Bad and the Ugly. "Not only was it inhumane, but it also bent the rules for the cheerleaders, cause no one else is allowed to bring toy guns to school," said Garrigan.

Garrigan then circulated a petition against gun promotion at pep rallies. Then with a friend she wrote an editorial to the school newspaper. Portions of it were censored by principal Nathan Chaddick. Chaddick explained, "Anything of a pointed, personal nature toward any one student or group, we don't want that allowed." The censored criticism was directed toward the authority figure. The letter in its entirety was published in the local newspaper. National media got a hold of the story. Today Garrigan was scheduled for a phone interview with a major news network. The interview got bumped, but the story didn't. Garrigan smiled, "I would have never thought it would have gone like this."

Now it's damage control for NISD. Written in a district statement is "The selection of the skit for the pep rally was short sighted, inconsistent with the policy and practice of the school district, and was not sensitive to the times in which we live."Chaddick said he never had prior knowledge of the skit and even arrived late to the pep rally missing the skit all together. Chaddick said, "Historically there's not been a prior approval process for a pep rally skit. It's certainly been changed and there's certainly a process in place now to prevent anything like this from happening in the future."

Also written in the NISD statement is, "The editing of the student editorial was ill advised." Chaddick said, "We do apologize for the misperception that's out there." 

Meanwhile, cheerleaders are having their pictures and videos depicted across the web. Blog surveys are creating cruel responses. One cheerleader mom fears the public isn't getting the whole story. Susan Sowards said, "The cheerleaders never intended for this to be malicious or offensive. Certainly did not mean to hurt any body's feelings."

Another telling line in NISD's statement is "This has been a learning experience for everyone and we have all learned from the students."

The administration knows it's their responsibility to guide students and admit when they're wrong. The cheerleaders learn the importance of distinguishing between spirit and poor taste. And a young student learns sticking to principals can bring beneficial change.

NISD Statement

The Nacogdoches Independent School District does not advocate the use of weapons or violence under  any circumstances. The selection of the skit for the pep rally was short sighted, inconsistent with the policy and practice of the school district, and was not sensitive to the times in which we live. 

We have implemented procedures whereby the administration will approve all skits before they are performed so that this doesn't happen again.

The editing of the student editorial was ill advised. This has been a learning experience for everyone and we have all learned from the students.  I/we/ the district/administration/principal apologize to the students involved and to those offended by the skit and the subsequent handling of the controversy.

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