Photos purportedly showing Splendora High School students turning their backs when the Tarkington varsity volleyball team was announced at a game Friday circulated on social media over the weekend, leading to outrage from the families and supporters of Tarkington players and an apology from Splendora ISD.
District officials at Splendora High School will address the students about how they should behave at future sporting events, said Splendora ISD spokesperson Deitra Inkster.
When asked to comment on the photos, Inkster pointed to a post made by the district on Facebook that reads, “We are disappointed that some students chose to display unsportsmanlike behavior at the varsity volleyball game by turning their backs during player announcements. This does not reflect the values and culture that we are teaching and building, and how we view healthy and fun competition. We will address this issue with our students on Monday to ensure this does not happen in the future.”
Rivalry between Splendora and Tarkington students is nothing new. Up until recently, the rivalry, to some degree, was encouraged as the two districts’ football teams faced off in the Battle of the Bell, a tradition that dates back to 1962 when two brothers – Tarkington High School Principal H. C. Dunn and Splendora ISD Superintendent P. M. Dunn – wagered on a game between the two football teams.
The last Battle of the Bell was played in September 2017. The games were canceled because Splendora ISD has outgrown Tarkington ISD in enrollment numbers.
“There has always been a rivalry between the two schools and probably always will be,” said Tarkington ISD Superintendent Dr. Marc Keith. “Splendora has reached out to us to apologize. I am sure the students didn’t have any real malice toward the Tarkington students. If our kids did something, we would do the same thing.”
Keith said the photos have presented an opportunity to talk to students from both districts about good sportsmanship.
“Kids made mistakes and these mistakes are sometimes our best learning times. I am confident that we are going to work together on this,” Keith said. “We all are in the business of educating students together and are teaching the kids to grow up to be responsible citizens.”
Inkster said the incident is in no way indicative of the overall attitude of Splendora students, highlighting a pep rally at Splendora High School on Friday where special-needs students were involved in the cheerleaders’ performance.
“It was great … this is what we are about,” she said.
By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org