KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In the words of St. Teresa’s Academy, the school and church community was ‘challenged this past week’ by under-aged drinking and by some students’ decision to create a racist symbol from their drinking cups.
The administration and board of directors sent a letter to parents and the community to explain the challenge as best they could, without violating student privacy rules.
According to the letter, during the beer drinking game, plastic cups were placed in a sequence that resembled a swastika.
‘Upon the incident being brought to our attention, STA leadership undertook an internal, as well as an external investigation. We investigated underage drinking as well as the potential for racial discrimination. We also involved the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department,’ the letter said.
St. Teresa’s Academy, 5600 Main Street, said the students involved were disciplined.
In concluding their letter, the administration stressed the Academy’s strong Christian values to ’embrace a culturally, economically, ethnically and racially diverse student body, all with diverse perspectives and experiences.’
St. Teresa’s Academy continued to face questions and some criticism from people who thought the students should have been expelled.
In a Facebook post on Friday afternoon at approximately 2:30 p.m., Nan Bone, St. Teresa’s Academy President, said the following:
Our community was recently challenged by an event off campus, involving a group of students participating in a drinking game that included a hateful symbol. Unfortunately, as with high schools all across the country, we deal with underage drinking on a regular basis. This incident was irregular; it was something we have never faced before and it has shaken us to our core.
Our students and alumnae have expressed great levels of concern, as they should, and we are proud of this response. Our mission is to develop strong women, and this strength is shining through.
To reiterate, we condemn discrimination of any kind.
Many of you have questioned the consequences and called for expulsion of the students involved. While we respect your opinion, expulsion is the wrong solution in this situation. We live the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Our students are taught to care for the dear neighbor, “neighbor to neighbor, without distinction.” That teaching guides us in every decision we make.
St. Teresa’s Academy educates and empowers young women for the future. It’s more than developing the individual academically, spiritually and emotionally. It’s about becoming part of something bigger and discovering themselves along the way. It’s about rising to their individual potential and striking their path with the strength and support of their sisters, their community and their faith.
The last week has been a challenging one. Our job as educators is to use these incidents, when they occur, as opportunities to teach our young women what it means to care about their dear neighbor. We have more work to do.
President, St. Teresa’s Academy
A portion of the original statement:
‘We constantly strive to promote civil discourse, understanding, and appreciation of these differences, which is vital in an increasingly diverse and global society. When there is disruption to this inclusivity in our learning environment, it is appropriate for the Academy to take responsive action. Our hope is that, as our mission states, ‘profound love’ in action can lead to unity and reconciliation. We are ardent in attaining a safe and quality educational environment for all of our students. We are committed to providing our students the best educational opportunities we can while balancing justice, mercy and reconciliation.’