Administrators at Righetti and St. Joseph high schools have met to address a chanting incident at a recent basketball game that garnered national attention, and develop a plan that will allow the schools to work together to maintain a positive sports rivalry.
The meeting last week was detailed in an email sent to Righetti parents on Feb. 21, and prompted by a Feb. 11 video of Righetti students chanting “Where’s your passport” at St. Joseph students. The incident sparked heated conversation about the history of trash talking between the two schools, as well as demands from parents and community members for administrators to respond to the incident.
In the email to Righetti parents, Principal Karen Rodonti said administrators from both schools met last week and were working with “student ambassadors” to address the tradition of intense rivalry between the two schools and set boundaries to keep it respectful in the future.
Rotondi also referenced an upcoming “sportsmanship summit” that will involve students from both schools.
“To ensure tradition continues in a positive manner, administration from both schools have met and developed a plan to promote energetic, yet appropriate spirit and sportsmanship moving forward,” Rotondi said in the email. “A diverse group of student ambassadors from both schools will participate in a sportsmanship summit aimed at reflection and redirection of recent events to what should always be a prideful representation of our schools and community, devoid of actions that can prove damaging to others.”
The email does not state how student ambassadors were chosen or when the summit is set to take place, and administrators at Righetti did not respond to requests for comment regarding the summit or the meeting.
When St. Joseph was asked for comment regarding the meeting and plans for the summit, Principal Erinn Dougherty provided the following statement:
“St. Joseph High School is committed to moving forward in promoting a positive relationship with Righetti High School and supporting a friendly rivalry that enriches the athletic contests for players and spectators from both schools.
"The planned sportsmanship summit will be the first step in a multiyear commitment between SJHS and RHS to create a positive and safe environment for students to create and implement norms moving forward. We are blessed to have the opportunity to promote unity and support our community's students who attend both schools.”
Laura Place covers city government for the Santa Maria Times.
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