A response to ‘classy’ behavior


Zia Kelly

Mascots Chesty and Freddie meet at the football game Friday night at LHS.

By Zia Kelly

I don’t plan on doing this too often, but since I spend so much time covering the ongoings at LHS, I make a lot of observations — both positive and negative — about behavior. In the case of the rivalry game, I have a mixed opinion.

I generally get bored covering events like these. We play Free State in football every year. Why is this time any different? Well clearly, what was found on the turf Thursday morning made this Friday night a lot different.

I don’t feel the obligation to give a synopsis of what went down, but I do want to emphasize our editorial take on the event: what happened was in no way Free State’s fault, nor should it be taken as a reflection of their student body. The vandalism was the action of five seniors with poor taste, and that is the only place blame should be thrown.

When the damage was first found, the school kept it quiet for most of the day, which is where I draw my first complaint. The student body was never officially informed by the administration, and the faculty was not informed until the official press release was made at the district level. This was the wrong way to handle the situation.

In no way am I blaming the individual administrators for keeping quiet. They were doing what they deemed best. It is the mindset that withholding information from people in the building is the way to handle things that I take issue with.

People found out for themselves that it was happening. That should have been anticipated. But when things like this are not addressed, it only makes them seem more taboo, which causes an even bigger classroom distraction than making the information public.

I am sympathetic to wariness about disclosing incomplete information. As a journalist, I understand that. However, acknowledging that the event happened — at least by informing teachers — would be much more effective than letting the story spiral into an oblivion of uninformed rumors.

In Superintendent Rick Doll’s speech at the game, he mentioned the “courageous conversations” going on at the district level. Would it not be more effective to have those with the students themselves? If classrooms were more open to discussions about social inequality, it’s possible that things like this wouldn’t happen in the first place.

While I think there was some fault on the administrative side, I give them kudos for their emphasis on the important issues: the severity of the messages written and possible retaliatory action.

More than anything, LHS staff stressed the importance of acting with good taste in tough situations, which is absolutely what they needed to do. I’m also glad initiative was coupled with discussion about what the rivalry really means opposed to what was demonstrated by the vandals.

For the most part, LHS students took this to heart. The mantra “keep it classy, LHS” flooded the publication’s Twitter feed, which was a good sign.

From what I observed, there were no retaliatory actions taken at the game, and I think there is something to be said for that. Students rose above adversity and ended up uniting with Free State for a common cause. It was nice to see that many students from both schools came decked-out in purple. I would like to see that as more of a unification effort than as activism. Wearing a color in itself does not make the institution of racism any less prevalent.

HOWEVER, I took major issue with another choice LHS students made in the stands: bringing red Solo cups, a clear reference to drinking, and throwing them around the student section. I can’t think of anything less classy than littering the stands with plastic while jointly putting out a message that certainly didn’t rise to the level of “classy.”

Of course spreading provocative messages was not the intention, but no one was clueless about what the cups stood for, and the fact that they were present as a celebratory accessory at a school event is really disappointing. Seeing them litter the stadium after the game did not make me feel any better about being associated with the section.

I honestly would not think anything of it if I hadn’t heard the phrase “keep it classy” from half the student body earlier that day, but since taking the moral and behavioral high-ground seemed to be a goal, I think the execution of the house party theme was tacky and a bit hypocritical.

At this point I am not sure which I am more dissatisfied with: the entire “house party” theme or the Free State crowd’s violation of school rules with baby-powder confetti after their victory. That was a poor exhibition of class as well.

The district bans baby powder at games for a reason: it is very difficult to clean up and there are people that cannot tolerate inhaling it, making it a safety hazard as well.

There is no way its prohibition could be ambiguous: there are announcements about it at every game, including earlier that night. Violating the rule was unnecessary and disrespectful.

There is a synthesis to this rant, and if you have actually stuck it out to this point I am impressed and appreciate your attention. My final note to both school, students and administration is that while poor and offensive choices sometimes affect the educational environment, it is important to be responsive as opposed to reactionary. The response shouldn’t end at the superintendent’s speech at Friday night’s game. It should cause us to rethink how we approach our rivalry, what it means to have courageous conversations and how we truly can become classy.


Keep it classy, LHS,


Zia Kelly,