A senior prank video depicting students at a Phoenix charter school using water guns to shoot other students has stirred controversy, with some parents and community members questioning why school administrators would allow violent depictions.
Administrators and other community members, however, are defending the video, saying they put safeguards in place ahead of time and a disclaimer at the beginning of the video. It is based on the dystopian horror film “The Purge,” depicts an annual ritual in which all crime is legal for 12 hours.
The video was posted on North Pointe Preparatory’s Facebook page Friday and immediately stirred an extended debate among people posting comments.
The video shows students, some wearing masks and shirts with fake bloodstains, enter classrooms and shoot students with toy water guns and hit them with plastic baseball bats. The video starts by showing a gagged and handcuffed student gagged being and shot with water guns.
Many current students, parents, and alumni of NPP have commented on the school’s Facebook post about the prank.
Some argued the prank was insensitive in light of the school shootings that have occurred in recent years. Others argued that the prank was all in good fun, and that the kids were simply imitating a film they knew was fictional.
Bridget Marian, who graduated from NPP in 2009, told The Arizona Republic she thought the prank was in poor taste. She said she didn’t have an issue with the water guns, but rather with the violent video that accompanied them.
“There’s a lot of violence in schools, and I just thought that, as educators and as adults, we have a responsibility to tell kids that this isn’t something we should be acting out,” she said.
“Times are changing and they’re, I’m sure, trying to go with the flow in that way, but I think either way, it was handled poorly,” she added. “Violence is never a funny joke.”
Christopher Dalpe, who also graduated from the school in 2009, said he was “absolutely shocked” to hear that school administrators approved the prank. He, like Marian, said he had no problem with the water guns, but had a problem with the “adult subject material” addressed in the video.
“I can’t think of a scenario in life where filming a mock kidnapping and using fake blood and water guns is appropriate,” Dalpe said. “Not even for adults, much less teenagers.”
Dalpe said that, although the school “always liked to be a little edgy,” he could never have imagined a prank like this being approved while he was at NPP.
When asked what changed, he said “the administration got bold. They always do some things that are a little unusual, and I think this time they took it one or two steps too far.”
Many others who commented on the school’s Facebook post defended the prank and said it was all in good fun. The Republic reached out to several supporters who commented on the Facebook page, but they either declined to comment or did not want to speak on the record.
A statement posted on the school’s blog defended the prank, saying it was a part of the school’s daily 8:02 LIVE show and the “unique culture” at the school.
The statement also said the administration put safeguards in place and required students to show up 90 minutes before school started to get their water guns inspected and make sure all safety guidelines were being followed.
The school has received three formal complaints from people regarding the video, school official said.
The blog post said, “each one of those concerns will be valued, respected, and responded to just like any other concern we receive. However, we will not value, respect, and respond to those outside the North Pointe family (individuals, organizations, media) who may attempt to intimidate us into accepting their personal agendas and re-interpretations of what happens during our 8:02 LIVE shows.”
The statements added, “the voice of one Falcon, in agreement or disagreement, carries far more importance to us that the noise of thousands who do not understand who we are and the unique culture we enjoy.”
This isn’t the first time NPP has received criticism for student actions. Students were allowed to wear student shirts in 2013 that read, “WTF,” which they said meant “We’re the Falcons,” and shirts in 2012 that read, “Falcon Awesome.”
Read or Share this story: http://azc.cc/2xxkB5h