Howell, Mich. – Enough.
That’s the message of Cassie Bondie, a Howell High School student who wants an end to the viral firestorm she says has tarnished her school and community's reputation.
A handful of students’ racist Tweets after their all-white basketball team defeated a predominantly black team in state basketball playoffs are the rare exception rather than the rule at Howell, she said.
“Is this ever going to end?”she asked in a letter to the editor on the Daily Press & Argus web site, livingstondaily.com.
Stories about the Tweets, which contained hashtags such as #HitlerIsMyDad, #WhitePower and #kkk, have not only blanketed Michigan, they've been picked up nationally by news wires and national news web sites, including by Patch.
“While the nation has been focusing on the negative tweets of few, some of us have been celebrating the posts of those who choose to stand up,” Bondie wrote. “I think that adds up to many, many more than three.”
She asked people around the country to remember that the actions of three of Howell’s 2,500 students – and the town’s notorious past as the home of a Ku Klux Klan grand dragon who hosted cross burnings at his ranch – don’t define the community or the school.
“The truth of the matter is, the majority of us are embarrassed to even hear that term (white power) used in normal conversation,” she wrote. “There are no more Howell students using the ‘n’ word than there are in any other school across the country. In fact, we jump at the chance to stand up against anyone choosing to use it.”
Howell school officials have emphasized that it was students who brought the offensive Tweets to their attention.
“... if you want to know how it grew so quickly, you can thank the other hundreds of Howell students on Twitter who were so angered by these horrible Tweets that they called out their peers, took photos, and expressed their frustrations via social media,” she wrote.
'More to Us than Our Past'
The letter continues:
“But our reputation precedes us, fairly or unfairly.
“But we have news for everyone. News that is worthy of becoming a headline.
“There is more to us than our past.”
Write about this, she prodded the media:
“Accomplishments fill the school hallways here. We have National Merit finalists, an award-winning choir program, a drama program that rivals many professional theaters, extremely talented and honorable sports players, students who are consistently making the paper for fundraising and assisting those who are in need, and an academic program that keeps up well with the pack.”
Social Media Training May Be Expanded
Meanwhile, Howell Public Schools officials are considering stepping up the district’s social media training.
The training is currently available to athletes, but school officials are now considering expanding the training to the entire student body, the Detroit Free Press reports.
“That has been mentioned,” school spokesman Thomas Gould told the newspaper.
School officials said earlier this week that they’re taking “corrective action,” although they would not discuss the nature of the reprimands, citing student confidentiality standards.
The controversy has overshadowed a significant accomplishment by the Howell team, none of whom were involved in the Twitter firestorm. The Highlanders claimed their first regional title since 1927, but stumbled in the Class A quarterfinals, losing 69-39 to the Mount Pleasant Oilers.TELL US: How do you talk to your kids about social media? Any advice for other parents?
Trending on Patch is a category showcasing popular stories from across Patch's network of 900 local news sites.