Letter about high school chant sparks outrage among students - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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Letter about high school chant sparks outrage among students

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EAST HAMPTON, CT (WFSB) -

A high school cheer that has been around for years is being scrutinized for the use of the word "white." This is happening at East Hampton High, where the colors are blue and white.

Outraged students quickly took to social media after they were told the cheer was being suspended, ahead of the winter sports season.

The cheer is very common at the school, and with their colors being blue and white, it’s not uncommon to see “white-outs” at games at the school, and at schools across the country.

A note was written earlier this week by Principal John Fidler, and said that because of the current social climate across the country, the use of the “white” cheer is under suspension.

“It's kind of outgrown just being done in our gym and at pep rallies and there's a time and a place where the cheer is appropriate and a time when it may appear insensitive,” said school Superintendent Paul Smith.

“It's not really that big of a deal to me or to any of our sophomore class. I don't understand why it's a problem now,” said East Hampton student Kylie O’Brien.

Many students agree with her.

The note sparked an online firestorm, with students posting on Facebook.

Jordan Michnowicz wrote: “...this stuff has me outraged they are trying to take a simple chant that our school has done for years and years. They are trying to make it about race.”

Brandon Kochuk posted “when the seniors cheer all they say is white. they don't say white power or anything involving race they are just saying white.”

School officials said they saw how misinformation was being spread online and met with the senior class to clear the air.

“In road games, we're dressed in blue, and even though it's still the senior tradition to say white, white, white, over and over, I think the context is not understood by everybody,” Smith said.

After Thursday’s discussion, Smith said the cheer is not suspended as many initially thought and student speech isn’t being stifled.

“He is not telling them what they can say and can't say in the gym at the games. He wants them to come but he also wants them to reflect the positive things they do outside of the gym as well,” Smith said.

He added that the timing of the note and the discussion was to coincide with the start of winter sports where gyms will be used weekly and the cheers will be heard bouncing off the walls.

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