Just before spring break,
Desert Hills Middle School
in Kennewick, Washington, about a half-hour north of the Oregon border, held a school assembly and
in the gym. One particular activity held during the assembly left many students feeling awkward and their parents angry.
During the activity, a piece of plexiglass was placed in the middle of the gym floor. On both sides of the plexiglass, marshmallow cream was smeared in four distinct areas. Then, a team of students raced against a team of staff members — which reportedly included a vice principal— to see which side could lick all the cream off first. The most disturbing moments of the game occurred when students and adults, separated only by a clear piece of plexiglass, were licking the cream at the same time.
One of the students recorded the game on a cell phone, and the video went viral. Even as many students laughed and cheered, others can still be heard expressing discomfort throughout the video, making comments such as "that's actually so gross!" "what the heck?" and "who thought that this was a good idea?" Exclamations of "eww!" can also be heard throughout the video.
After she learned about the video, district Superintendent Dr. Traci Pierce sent a letter home to parents condemning the licking game. "This activity does not reflect the high standards we hold for our staff members as outlined in district policy," Pierce wrote. "The content of a video being shared on social media is highly concerning, and the situation is currently being investigated by the district.
"This activity does not have district approval and will never be repeated in the future," she
After viewing the video, some parents suggested that the school was sexually "grooming" students, but Pierce denied those accusations. "There is zero evidence to suggest or support that this was in any way ‘grooming’ activity on the part of organizers or participants," she said, claiming that "the intent of the activity was innocent and not ill-intended."
Principal Casey Gant — who can reportedly be seen on the video laughing and filming the game — has also issued an apology:
On behalf of Desert Hills Middle School, I would like to apologize for the activity that took place during our recent assembly. As building principal, I take ownership for the events that occur in my school, and I recognize the impact that this situation has had on our school community. I am committed to the safety of our students and staff and will ensure that all future activities meet the highest professional standards and adhere to district policy. Again, I apologize that this incident occurred and for the negativity brought to the Desert Hills community.
The mother of the student who filmed the incident still finds it unsettling and seems to doubt the supposedly "innocent" intentions of those who scheduled and participated in it. "In my opinion, we do not send our children to school to be exposed to highly sexualized behavior by adults," she told Jason Rantz of KTTH, a local conservative talk-radio station. "We send them to school to learn and for them to socialize with other people their ages. They shouldn’t have to sit in a gym for a school assembly and wonder 'what is going on.' Schools should be a safe place for children to go and this despicable display of adult behavior was hard to watch."
Superintendent Pierce said she was taking "corrective measures" regarding the game, but declined to elaborate on the nature of those measures, citing "confidentiality with respect to personnel matters."
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