We must support and forgive
At the request of LOSD Superintendent Heather Beck, a third-party investigation was conducted in regards to an alleged incident of hazing and bullying surrounding the Pacer Dance Team (PDT). From Nov. 6-Dec. 5, investigators gathered details, interviews and documentation.
According to The Hungerford Law Firm, hazing of students occurred on the evening of Aug. 9, 2014. The head coach confirmed in writing to a colleague in early September that she knew hazing occurred. An adults eyewitness account of these events has not been challenged in terms of what was conveyed.
By no means is hazing acceptable on any team or organization at this school, but the current and former members of PDT shouldnt feel as though one evening has forever damaged their reputations or ruined their high school experiences.
Through verbal lashings over social media, embellished rumors swirling around about what exactly went down on the night of Aug. 9 and assaults on their character, the girls involved have faced too much.
Students, parents, media outlets and all Lake Oswegans: I implore you to change your attitudes. The girls on this team are good students who have been embodiments of true Pacers and ambassadors for this community during their time at Lakeridge.
LHS Principal Jennifer Schiele couldnt have said it any better: This is about learning from our mistakes in order to ensure that students arent in this position in the future. Its important to focus on who we really want to be.
Im hoping that what good comes from this is that we learn, we improve and we forgive, she said.
Rather than diminish the accolades and handiwork of a team that was the state champion in the jazz category for fall competition season, everyone associated with LHS must band together and support one another, especially this team, at a time when our school district hasnt been in the local media outlets good graces. Pointing fingers and calls for suspensions and/or firings is like dumping kerosene on an already burning fire. It does no one any good.
Critics appear to be unaware that Schiele and the other members of the LHS administration instantly took the appropriate steps to better not only PDT and the schools athletic department as a whole, but the entire student body as well.
Coaching staffs for all teams will receive training in May on hazing and bullying, theres an assembly on Feb. 13 about bullying and Im attending a training session on hazing as well, said Schiele.
A lot of positives can in fact come from this mess, but only if the city of Lake Oswego and its citizens will allow it.
If anyones goal was to cripple this team through the investigation, it certainly hasnt worked. When asked if their team has grown stronger and performed better because of this delicate situation, members of PDT were quick to assert that theyre still as tight-knit a family as ever.
If anything, it makes us want to work harder, said senior Bella Stephens. Weve definitely gotten closer and bonded more through this.
Added freshman Mallory Spring, We all have each others backs. A bonded team makes a better team on the dance floor. I dont think the judges are biased against us because of the publicity weve had.
I hope pundits are well aware of the countless behind-the-scenes efforts this team takes to get itself ready for competition days. A team like the one being portrayed in the media wouldnt be as dedicated as PDT is in actuality.
It is why I have taken time to propose the means necessary to create a desirable ending to all of this.
I first ask all who read this not to mock, to berate, to criticize or to conspire against any current or former PDT member. They deserve far better than the treatment being given and have been wronged. I know how genuine a group they are.
Secondly, I cannot stress enough that attacks on the LHS administration only worsen the current matter. Dr. Schiele has taken the necessary actions to resolve this matter and shouldnt feel as though she is responsible for what happened. This was an off-campus extracurricular activity not directly supervised by her.
Please, dont let this situation melt the excellence of LHS and Pacer Dance Team. Its not worth it.
Its about unrequited forgiveness and empathy right now.
Brady Johnson is sports editor of The Newspacer, the online student news site of Lakeridge High School.JW_DISQUS_ADD_A_COMMENT