Comments on social media led the seniors at Simsbury High School to create a flash mob on Friday, which caused a disturbance that led to the cancellation of a scheduled pep rally.
The week of Oct. 14 through 18 is Spirit Week in Simsbury. However, several incidents between the seniors and juniors led Simsbury High School Principal Neil Sullivan to cancel Friday afternoon's pep rally.
"In 14 years at Simsbury High, I have never faced a situation quite like this one, and it is causing me to take a step back to do some real reflection about our school community," Sullivan said in the announcement. "That process will take time."
Sullivan said in a letter to the media and parents, he and his staff had learned about "some tensions" between the seniors and juniors earlier this week. However, the "matters got worse when insults started flying on social media."
"In an ill-guided attempt to unify as a group, most members of the senior class decided to take matters into their own hands during lunch today," Sullivan said.
A flash mob involving about 300 seniors was held in the back corner of the cafeteria during the second lunch wave, Sullivan said.
The seniors played loud music and teachers stood on the tables trying to get the children to quiet down, students told Eyewitness News.
Students refused to shut off the music and go back to class, Sullivan said.
"They wouldn't leave.They just kind of sat there, chanting stuff," said Tucker Salls, who is a senior at Simsbury High School.
Instead of returning to class, most of the seniors walked around the school with the music still playing.
"They made laps around the second and first floors of the school, disrupting classes throughout the building with their loud behavior, before proceeding across the parking lot and into the stands of the football field," Sullivan said.
About 150 students sat in the stands for a few minutes, Sullivan said, but they returned to the cafeteria where juniors and seniors got into a "shouting match."
"Tons of kids, they looked like they were color coordinated," said neighbor Meghan Johnson "Then I saw police come through."
During the incident, Eyewitness News also spotted police at the school. However, students told Eyewitness News that no arrests were made.
After tensions settled, the students returned to their classrooms.
No injuries were reported during the incident.
After meeting with teachers and his administrative team, Sullivan made an announcement and said he canceled the pep rally.
"I know that this is disappointing news for those who had no part in the unfortunate events of today or this week," Sullivan said. "But we believe that there are now issues of crowd control and safety for that event that we cannot overcome."
Simsbury High School plays New Britain High School Friday night at 7 p.m. at Simsbury High School.
Sullivan said the pre-game celebration, which will be hosted by the Trojan Wall group is expected to be held as well as the homecoming dance on Saturday night.
"As long as we can get cooperation for the rest of today," Sullivan said. "If not, those events will also be in jeopardy."
Sullivan went on to say that Spirit Week, which is supposed to celebrate school spirit, "has turned into one where class is pitted against class, and that dynamic spilled over to an unacceptable outcome this week."
"We need to examine how we structure the events of this week. We definitely need to learn some lessons from the role that social media played in this week's problems, and we need to have some honest conversations about what it means to be a leader in our school. I can promise you that those conversations will happen, and I encourage all of you to be thoughtful participants in them. We can be productive when we come together as a school community, but we cannot function when mob mentality takes over," Sullivan said.
In the letter, Sullivan asked parents to talk to their students about Friday's events.
"While a series of poor decisions led to the unfortunate cancellation of the pep rally, I am confident that we can turn this into a teachable moment for our student body," Sullivan said.
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