After the Dec. 2 incidents, the administration made changes to decrease the probability of reoccurrences.
The administration hopes that changing the time of the hockey game from 9 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. will be another way to control the situation. According to Griffith, scheduling games for 9 p.m. “invites the problem.” By changing the time, the administration hopes to create a safer environment. Furthermore, when students bought tickets for the Dec. 9 game, they were handed a list of rules for school events held at Thornton Park Ice Rink. These rules prohibit students from bringing bottles, bags and purses into the event. For the hockey games against St. Ignatius and US, tickets will only be sold in advance of the game. This practice has been common in past years, as games against Shaker’s traditional rivals are most often sold out.
Assistant Principal Sara Joyce said, “If there is a concern about somebody’s safety, both agencies [school and police] are going to take action.” She emphasized that safety is always a priority. “Underage drinking at any level is a violation of the law, and students are not exempt from the law at school events,” she said.
The administration is also reviewing the dismissal process after games to try to reduce the likelihood of another fight in the parking lot. “Our presence out there is critical . . . we’ve taken steps to say that we should be out there prior to the dismissal of an event. . . so that when people come out, there’s already a visible presence to make the point that we’re expecting it to be a nice, quiet exit,” Griffith said.
Furthermore, lighting in the parking lot outside of the gymnasium, where the fight occurred, is poor, making it hard to see people’s faces. Principal Michael Griffith said that administration will “try to make [the parking lot] a more visible place.”
Assistant Principal Eric Hutchinson said, “Sometimes, when these things happen and no one gets seriously hurt . . . it lets us evaluate the situation.” Hutchinson said that “the stars were aligned” for a big turnout at the basketball game. However, “as a school we weren’t negligent,” Hutchinson said.
Head basketball coach Danny Young doesn’t anticipate any more problems with violence. “I think the school’s taking proper precautions to make sure everything is all safe,” Young said.
However, senior forward Jordan Allen thinks that the violence will escalate. “Before you know it, there’s gonna be guns,” Allen said.
The administration has raised questions regarding limited fan participation in future hockey games for those who were apprehended for underage drinking. Griffith said that he does not currently plan on Breathalyzing students as they enter school-sanctioned events. However, he acknowledges that the policy could be implemented in the future. “It’s not where I would go first,” Griffith said. “If we get to the point where there’s no alternative, then we’ll cross that bridge.”
“I believe in our kids,” Griffith said.
A version of this article appeared in print on 14 December 2011, on pages 4 and 5 of The Shakerite.