The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

Students Contend That Testing at Game was Unfair

The roar of cheering fans was not loud enough to drown out the sirens of police cars and an ambulance.  

And the explanations of administrators after the fact have done little to quiet students who are protesting arrests for underage drinking.

Those who attended the Dec. 2 varsity hockey game against Lake Catholic High School witnessed students pulled out of the stands and Breathalyzed, a student taken away in handcuffs and others simply turned away from entering the game.

A majority of the students removed from the game for underage drinking felt they were randomly chosen. Contrary to students’ perceptions, however, Assistant Principal Sara Joyce, the administrator assigned to the events, said that administrators did not choose which students were pulled out or tested. “We did not direct the police in any way,” she said.

 Principal Michael Griffith reinforced that point. “We don’t authorize or deny authorization of Breathalyzing . . . we didn’t ask [the police] to [Breathalyze],” he said. “They’re doing it as a part of their responsibility.” The police have a prerogative to breath test because Thornton is city-owned property.

Assistant Athletic Director Michael Babinec, who attended the game, said that administrators who see obviously intoxicated students are obligated to act. “If we identify a student to be showing signs of being drunk or having consumed alcohol, we are to turn them over to the security staff. Then, the security staff works in conjunction with the police department [to determine the consequences],” he said.

Senior Ian Adams witnessed a senior being taken out of the game. According to Adams, the student “was just standing in the crowd, not doing anything at all.” Adams also observed that the administration seemed to be choosing students who weren’t displaying evidence of intoxication. “It didn’t seem like they were treating the students fairly, by taking, what it seemed to be, kids at random,” he said. Similarly, senior Catherine Taylor noticed that security guards were also taking people out of the bathrooms.

Senior Aaron Carrion, who was apprehended for underage drinking, was standing and watching the game when a security guard tapped him on the shoulder. “I’ve gone to almost every single hockey game since freshman year and nothing [was] different; everybody just goes crazy,” he said. “I was one of the only kids who got handcuffed and arrested, but that was only because of the cop I was dealing with. He and I were butting heads really hard.”

Other students were more understanding of the events. “I think that the administration went overboard and picked on mainly seniors,” said senior Jeremy Allen. “At the same time, they were doing their job. That’s how it goes.”

Greg Shick, father of junior hockey co-captain and center Jacob Shick, said he didn’t notice any difference in fan behavior from past games. “We honestly didn’t see anything out of line; the kids were in paint and had the usual rowdiness,” he said. He also spoke with fans from the opposing side. “[Parents of Lake Catholic players] said that they loved the fans. They weren’t used to playing with such a great atmosphere,” he said.

Junior left wing John Longman said, “It’s good to show other schools that we have a crowd to support us — as long as they’re not creating a scene.”

Fan support was one of the reasons junior Richard Grant decided to play for the Shaker hockey team. “I love them. It’s so much fun to play hockey with not necessarily drunk, but supporting fans,” he said.

Students who arrived later in the evening were prohibited from entering the game. Seniors Claire Levin and Nora O’Connell and junior Pearl Ernat arrived around 9:45 p.m. and were told that tickets were no longer being sold. Senior Mike Bellamy arrived at the hockey game around 10:45 p.m. “The security guard started pushing me back and telling me I couldn’t come in. When I asked why, he just said that there were too many people,” Bellamy said.

Upset with police and administration actions concerning intoxicated students, Senior Alex Gaspar created The Youth Rebellion, a movement “to prove a point that [as] students, we aren’t a violent group at all and we’re not trying to cause a problem, we’re just trying to have a good time,” he said. Gaspar made shirts that say “sober” on the front and have the Youth Rebellion symbol on the back.

Bellamy said, “We as a senior class have been good role models and are relatively angelic compared to past classes. And the fact that the administration targeted us is why students are so upset, and justifiably so.”

In the midst of frustration and disappointment caused by the events at the hockey game, Griffith made an announcement Dec. 6 at the end of ninth period expressing his views on the situation. “The choices I am seeing some students make show a clear lack of respect for self, for family, for the school and for the community,” Griffith said. “I want to be a school community that can celebrate the hard work of our students and adults in many wonderful activities and events, a community where we can come to support each other, to affirm each other for positive things, to reward effort and hard work, to share our common love for being a part of Shaker.”

A version of this article appeared in print on 14 December 2011, on pages 4 and 5 of The Shakerite.

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