One of the most anticipated and celebrated events of the school year is our annual Spirit Week, pep rally, homecoming parade and game. It came to our attention on Friday, Sept. 20 that a number of seniors assembled very early in the morning at Plandome Pond Park to paint one another for the day’s festivities. We also learned that some of these seniors failed to clean up after themselves, as bottles of water-based paint were left behind and areas of the park were marked with paint from their activity.
Upon hearing of this, we immediately addressed the issue with our seniors and required them to return to the park later that day to clean the mess they had left behind. We also dispatched a power washer to ensure that all areas affected were cleaned thoroughly and that there was no paint or marking remaining as a result of their activity.
Our district values pride in community as much as pride in school. Events such as Spirit Week and homecoming are a privilege for students, and we should all be grateful to live and work in such a supportive and caring community that puts children first. This message was reemphasized to the senior class in the wake of this incident.
We take the conduct of our students very seriously—not only when they are in school, but also in their daily lives. Although the intent was not malicious, incidents such as this are unacceptable, and while we are always educating students to be civic-minded citizens as well as dedicated scholars, we also realize that they are still learning and growing, not only academically and physically, but intellectually as well.
While I respect the media’s responsibility to report the news, we do take exception to the mischaracterization of our students used in last week’s headline associated with your reporting of this incident (“Punks Paint Park”). While unfortunate, we feel their behavior reflected poor judgment, but our students are certainly not “punks.”
On behalf of the board of education and administration, we thank the community and the Town of North Hempstead for their understanding and the compassion they have shown toward the senior class. Please realize that this incident is not indicative of who they are as a collective group. As a district, we will continue to prioritize social-emotional education and emphasize quality character to all learners.
—Dr. Vincent Butera, Manhasset Superintendent of Schools and Dr. Dean Schlanger, Manhasset Secondary School Principal