SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – South Hadley High School students were upset and outraged about hateful comments made by a fellow classmate online, Principal Diana Bonneville said in a statement sent to 22News.
A group of about 30 of those students staged a walk out in protest of the situation Thursday afternoon. Students involved in the protest told 22News South Hadley does not stand for racism or homophobia, and that they don’t want South Hadley to be known as “the bully town.” The students said they were at risk for getting detentions, but wanted to take a stance.
The hateful comments were allegedly made by a student in Snapchat videos recorded off school grounds. South Hadley Public Schools called the videos “inappropriate and discriminatory.”
Principal Bonneville said in a statement to 22News that the actions of one individual does not speak for the entire SHHS community.
“Our student body would like to get the word out that SHHS students and faculty are welcoming, encouraging and supportive of one another and we stand united against hatred and discrimination,” the principal said.
Bonneville said the school has reached out to local organizations for additional support and plans to turn the incident into a “catalyst for positive change.”
22News Reporter Tashanea Whitlow is covering this story and will bring you highlights from the protest on 22News Starting at 5:00 p.m.
The principal and school system’s full statements regarding the incident can be read below:
South Hadley High School Principal Diana Bonneville:
Students were quite upset and outraged about the hateful comments made online and our student body would like to get the word out that SHHS students and faculty are welcoming, encouraging and supportive of one another and we stand united against hatred and discrimination. We do not tolerate inappropriate and disrespectful behavior, which is so harmful to our school climate and reputation. The actions of one individual do not speak for all of us- it is not what SHHS believes in nor stands for. We would like to turn this negative incident into a catalyst for positive change by using it as a teaching tool to promote civility, respect, and forgiveness.We have reached out to local organizations for additional support, as well as guidance to initiate difficult conversations about combating prejudice and hate. We remain committed to providing a safe and nurturing learning environment.
Superintendent of Schools Nicholas D. Young
South Hadley Public Schools is aware of the inappropriate and discriminatory Snapchat videos that were posted by a student. While these occurred off school grounds, this school system does not tolerate behavior of this type and plans to take all actions within its authority to address this matter to include working collaboratively with the South Hadley Police Department. Rest assured we are taking this incident very seriously and will use this as an educational opportunity to initiate conversations about respecting individual differences and promoting equality and respectful treatment for all. We want students and parents to know that counseling staff and administration are available in the interim for any questions or concerns. We remain committed to providing a safe and caring learning environment.
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