The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake School District has received unwanted attention in recent days after a group of students used a racially motivated chant at Saturday's football game. As YNN's Matt Hunter reports, both administrators and students are hoping to put the incident behind them and learn something from it.
SARATOGA COUNTY, N.Y. – Three days after a racially charged chant marred the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake football team's impressive victory over Amsterdam, district administrators and students are working to put the events behind them.
"The unfortunate events related to Saturday's game offer our students an opportunity to learn valuable life lessons," said Sam Bartlett, a senior who’s president of the student body and a member of the football team.
"I'm embarrassed by their behavior and it's something we're taking very seriously at the high school," High School Principal Tim Brunson said.
Surrounded by nearly a dozen of his classmates and the school's principal and superintendent Tuesday, Bartlett read a letter of apology to the Amsterdam community, a letter signed by 900 staff, faculty and students.
"These actions involving a few individuals are not representative of the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake student body as a whole," a portion of the letter states.
Following the game, superintendent Patrick McGrath says he received just as many emails and phone calls from people within the district as he did from the outside, adding many of those people were concerned about the incident's impact on the school's reputation.
"I think it was just, kind of that, from peoples' gut that this is wrong, this isn't who we are, this isn't what we're about," McGrath said.
Administrators say the chant began late in the fourth quarter and came from a section comprised of roughly 40 students. It ended once head coach Matt Shell grabbed the microphone and implored the crowd to stop.
"We've been in contact with a number of students and we actually had some students come forward and admit their responsibility and their role," Brunson said.
The school's investigation is ongoing. Administrators are considering punishments ranging from suspensions to banning those responsible from athletic contests. All hope it can used to teach a lesson about acceptance.
"By working side by side, we hope our friendly rivalry and mutual respect and understanding between our schools continues to grow in a positive manner," said Bartlett while reading from the letter, who added he hopes to have a meeting with members of Amsterdam’s Student Government Organization in the near future.