[UPDATED: 5:15 p.m.] South Windsor Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kate Carter distributed a statement to the community and said that administrators have met with the students involved in the chanting incident.
By Ronni Newton
South Windsor Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kate Carter said that the administration has investigated the incident reported by the media and captured on cellphone video of South Windsor fans chanting the “Dreidel Song” at a boys soccer game Wednesday evening.
Carter issued the following statement in a letter distributed to parents in the South Windsor Public Schools late Friday afternoon:
As you are likely aware, there has been widespread media coverage of an incident involving a group of South Windsor student spectators at an athletic match in West Hartford. The high school administration conducted a thorough investigation and has met with the students involved. We take this situation seriously and are committed to using this unfortunate incident as a catalyst for meaningful conversations and teachable moments. Sadly, the presence of racism, sexism, religious animus, and bigotry based on sexual orientation in schools is not unique to South Windsor, and school districts across the nation are all grappling with these complex issues. South Windsor Schools will be partnering with the Anti-Defamation League, an organization through which many Connecticut school districts have sought assistance in fostering a meaningful dialogue within their school communities. I thank parents for their continued partnership in our joint effort to support the academic, social and emotional growth of our students.
West Hartford Board of Education Chairman Mark Overmyer-Velazquez said Friday afternoon that while the incident is really disappointing, “It seems that our students at Hall responded well by not responding.”
“Incidents like this make it all the more clear that we need to be diligent about fighting racism and discrimination inour society,” Overmyer-Velazquez said. He is pleased that West Hartford Public Schools have been making strides in actively pursuing social justice and unity among students.
“This is an unfortunate reminder that we need to be vigilant,” said Overmyer-Velazquez. “I’m hopeful that this will yield more meaningful conversations.”
West Hartford administrators are hopeful that their counterparts in South Windsor will take appropriate action with students who attended a Hall vs. South Windsor boys soccer game Wednesday evening and appeared to be chanting the “Dreidel Song.”
The chanting, captured on cellphone video that was aired by NBC Connecticut late Thursday night, appeared to be coming from the South Windsor student section.
Since the “Dreidel Song” has nothing to do with soccer and is a song usually sung at Hanukkah, some are viewing the chanting as anti-Semitic. West Hartford has a large Jewish population, and many Hall High School students are Jewish.
“While it is disappointing to hear about the poor choices made by some of the visiting team fans, I am proud of the Hall student body for not engaging and making a bad situation worse. We will continue to encourage our fans to represent Hall to the highest possible standards and aim to the have attention directed where it should be – the athletes on the field,” Hall Principal Dan Zittoun said Friday morning.
“We deplore actions like that,” West Hartford Assistant Superintendent of Schools Andy Morrow said Friday. “It’s sad and unfortunate when kids make bad choices.”
Morrow said that West Hartford Public Schools have been in touch with South Windsor officials and are investigating the matter. “We’re in contact with the South Windsor superintendent and principal, and trust they will take appropriate action,” Morrow said.
Neither South Windsor Superintendent Dr. Kate Carter nor South Windsor High School Principal Daniel Sullivan could be reached for comment.
Hall won the game, 3-1.
An incident at the Hall vs. Conard boys soccer game last fall, where Conard students allegedly sang the “Dreidel Song,” sparked a townwide conversation about intolerance that also led to a discussion about Hall’s and Conard’s logos and Native American imagery.
In March, the West Hartford Board of Education voted to allow the schools to keep the Warrior and Chieftain names but remove all Native American images. Both Conard and Hall introduced new logos this past summer.
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