Colleyville high school's Trump-themed pep rally spurs criticism, apologies

COLLEYVILLE, Texas -- Signs made by students for a Colleyville high school pep rally are being called "racist" and "disgusting."

The signs and reaction from the community spurred an apology from school officials and students.

Colleyville Heritage High School students created the signs for a "Trump the Trojans" rally before their game last week against Trinity High School from Euless.

Images spread quickly on social media of a sign depicting a wall, with a label saying it was paid for by Trinity. 

The reference to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's immigration policies may have been intended as a joke, but many were offended that it was targeted at a school that's more diverse and in a less economically-advantaged area. 

"I'm embarrassed to say I went to this school," wrote one person on Twitter, who said she was a Colleyville Heritage alumna.

Current Colleyville Heritage students were also upset by the signs.

"When I saw the signs, I thought they were in poor taste," said Ty Stiles, a current sophomore. "That doesn't reflect what everyone thinks in this community."

Trinity ended up defeating Colleyville Heritage at the game, but Monday the losing school was still on the defensive.

In the morning, Colleyville Heritage's principal called Trinity High's principal to apologize. Students also released an open letter to Trinity students, writing that "the actions of last week do not demonstrate who we are" and acknowledged "that what we did was wrong."

"We made a mistake and we have to learn from it going forward," said Dr. Lance Groppel, CHHS principal, in a statement released by the district. "While I believe that was not the intent, I do believe that it is important to have a full understanding of the impact that comments can have on others."

The district said that the pep rally theme was approved by the administration at the beginning of the year, but that administrators did not approve specific signs and banners. Moving forward, signage will require approval.

PTSA President Robyn Schmidt said she immediately heard from concerned parents after the incident, and she met with the principal Monday. She's confident that the school is now taking the right steps and said any depiction of the school as racist is unfair.

"[The students] didn't realize how it sounded," Schmidt said. "They were tone deaf, because they're teenagers. I don't think that was their intention, any of the kids that did it. I don't think it was a racist statement."

She said the principal will be addressing the issue again Monday night at a previously-scheduled open house with parents.

"I can tell you the kids in this school are not racist," she said. "It is a very inclusive school."

A Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD representative issued the following statement:

"Students often play off current events during pep rallies, and this seems to be the case with Colleyville Heritage High School.  Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD and Grapevine-Colleyville ISD have always had a very positive working relationship and will work together to resolve this unfortunate issue."

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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