One Saratoga Springs High School student has been suspended and two others disciplined for inappropriate actions and comments at a Section II championship hockey game last week.
Shenendehowa High School officials are also investigating the behavior of some of their students after the long-running rivalry between the two Saratoga County schools turned ugly near the end of the game.
The Saratoga Springs High School varsity boys’ hockey team played the Shenendehowa High School team last Thursday at the 2,300-seat Union College rink in Schenectady. Saratoga won the game, 4-0.
Michael Piccirillo, superintendent of the Saratoga Springs City School District, said Tuesday some of the problems were started or intensified by the students’ use of social media, sending text messages on Twitter from their cellphones.
“They were sending Tweets back and forth, rude comments, that’s what I’ve heard,” he said.
Reports also indicate that bottles were thrown from one spectator seating area to the other, between the two schools’ fans.
Some of the rude comments focused on Bailey Wind, the Shaker High School student seriously injured in a tragic car accident on the Northway in Halfmoon on Dec. 1 that killed her boyfriend and another Shenendehowa High student. Wind was seated in the Shenendehowa portion of the hockey arena, which was right next to the Saratoga fan seating area for the Feb. 21 game.
Piccirillo said one Saratoga High student was suspended from school and two others were barred from attending any after-school, extracurricular high school events for the rest of the school year. The boys’ names were not released.
The three upperclassmen were questioned about their activities at the end of the hockey game by school officials.
“The kids have been honest, they admitted to certain things,” Piccirillo said.
At the Shenendehowa Central School District, High School Athletic Director Christopher Culnan said the behavior of some Shenendehowa students is being investigated. He said some students could face disciplinary action if it is determined they acted inappropriately.
He said the real problems started with just four minutes left in the game. But he said the social media issues appeared to have started before the game, with nasty text comments going back and forth on smartphones.
“A small group of students from both schools can ruin it for everyone. It’s really just a small group of students,” Culnan said.
On the Shenendehowa Central School District website, a question is posted on the “Shen Grapevine” area asking about rude comments yelled from the Saratoga fan area and “bottles of urine [thrown] at Shen’s student section.”
“In our investigation of this incident, we have been able to determine that this situation began on social media sites,” says the school district’s response.
“Some students from Saratoga and Shenendehowa have been sharing derogatory exchanges that are disrespectful and irresponsible,” it says.
“What happened at the game is inexcusable on both sides. What you failed to mention is that the spectators from Shen initiated the throwing of objects by tossing two bottles at the Saratoga fans,” the school statement says.
“Students must realize that under changes in the code of conduct, they can be held responsible for actions taken via the social media, especially when it impacts school events,” the statement says.