BAYONNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Is it school spirit, or does it cross the line?
As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, students and parents have been asking that question about a pep rally at a Catholic school in New Jersey.
At the rally at Marist High School in Bayonne, N.J., this past Friday, a dummy wearing the T-shirt from the school’s rival football team, Hudson Catholic, was set on fire. When it was over, the dummy had been burned to ashes.
The rally happened during school hours, and students and parents at Hudson High School at Hudson Catholic, in Jersey City, were fuming Wednesday.
“It’s very disrespectful what they did and it was uncalled for,” Hudson Catholic student Nicholas Mercado said.
“The whole school was hurt from that,” another student said.
“I don’t know why they would do that,” a third student added. “It makes no sense to me.”
The principal at Marist defended the rally, and the burning of the effigy. She said the students were just trying to reinvigorate school spirit, bringing back the kind of pep rallies they used to have back in the 1980s.
Principal Alice Miesnik said the effigy burning was even given the green light by the fire department.
The department said “that it would be all right if we had this effigy burning, which is something that is commonly done in colleges, and has been done here before; has been done with neighboring schools,” Miesnik said.
The principal at Hudson Catholic had no comment. Nor did the Newark Archdiocese, which is in charge of both Catholic high schools.
But Hudson Catholic parent Wilmer Rosario said he wants some answers.
“Many of the kids at the school are disturbed, and how the schools are not coming together — both schools are not coming together — to really to handle the situation,” Rosario said.
But Miesnik chalked the complaints up to sour grapes, given that Hudson Catholic went on to lose the football game against Marist Friday by a score of 34-0.
“We didn’t think it was wrong; we still don’t think it was wrong,” Miesnik said. “I do feel they would not feel this way had they not lost the game.”
While Miesnik said she had no regrets, some sources close to the controversy said the school is being discouraged from holding another dummy-burning pep rally.
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