The principal of Canton High School in Connecticut has apologized to Classical Magnet School, a predominantly black and Latino school in Hartford, because some Canton students chanted "Trump!" during a basketball game on Feb. 28.
Canton Principal Andrew DiPippo said the chanting students had been "spoken to directly," and wrote a letter to families on March 1, noted the Hartford Courant:
While students' right to free speech and forming educated opinions about politics and current events is a cornerstone of our educational system, the exact point where political opinion converges with disrespect, discrimination or hate speech must be separated.
We have a reputation as a welcoming community and these students crossed this line with their comments and have damaged our reputation. As principal, I am disheartened that our message of community has not resonated with all students.
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Canton Schools Superintendent Kevin Case said that about seven or eight students chanted President Donald Trump's name while Classical players tried to make free throws.
Classical supporters who were at the game said the "Trump" chants happened throughout the game, and that there were Canton fans with Trump signs and Trump-Pence campaign clothing.
Azaria Porter, a team manager for Classical, said the Canton chants included singing: "He's our president!"
"I'm not sure what politics has to do with basketball," Porter stated. "It was just annoying. It was like, OK, we get it."
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Classical coach Reggie Tucker said the team's game plan was: "Block out all the distractions."
"We were focused on trying to beat the No. 1 team in the conference -- at their place -- who we lost to a month ago," Tucker said. "My goal was those 14 young men on my bench and getting them in the game ... a really competitive high school game within a conference, and that's really what we were focused on."
Classical ended up winning the game 48-47.
Tucker said he held a team meeting before practice on March 1, and talked about how the incident was a "teachable moment."
According to Tucker, the team uses a saying by former first lady Michelle Obama: "When they go low, we go high."
"Sports, in my mind, is a reflection of life," Tucker added. "They're going to have situations in life like this ... Just focus on what you have to do. That's mental toughness."
The Associated Press notes that the Canton student body is about 84 percent white, while 69 percent of the Classical students are African American or Latino, according to state education statistics drawn from the 2015-16 school year.