CLARKSVILLE — The decision to prohibit seven seniors from walking at Clarksville High School’s graduation after a water fight was the subject of several comments at Tuesday’s school board meeting.
The school’s disciplinary actions recently drew strong reactions from the community when the seniors were not allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony after engaging in an incident with water balloons and water guns inside the school.
The students were still allowed to receive their diplomas after the May 28 ceremony, and although they did not walk at the formal event, they gathered outside the school with family and friends that evening to celebrate their graduation.
Clarksville resident Jerry Curry, the uncle of one of the graduates who wasn’t permitted to walk at graduation, criticized the decision.
“What offense did these young adults commit?” he said. “A water gun fight. Maybe a bad idea for an indoor activity. They were just blowing off steam and stress for a hard-fought year.”
Curry felt the penalty was “way out of line,” and he described it as an “administrative failure.”
Although Curry was the only one to speak during the public comments, he was cheered on by multiple other family members of the seven graduates in attendance at the meeting.
Two Clarksville school board members also discussed the graduation controversy at the meeting.
Board member Lynn Wilson criticized the way the community responded to the incident, particularly on social media. She described it as “foul name-calling” toward school leaders, and she said she saw comments that came across as threatening.
Board member Teresa Cummings said she felt disciplinary action was warranted for the indoor water fight, but she didn’t feel prohibiting the students from walking at graduation was the right punishment.
“I feel graduation is a huge milestone families and students worked toward, and I feel another punishment should have been given,” she said.
However, Cummings said, the incident doesn’t mean she has “lost faith in the school or the superintendent.
“We have a good school system and a good superintendent, and I feel we need to move forward in a strong manner.”