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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Conflict at an Annandale HS football game: coaches kick band off field

The Marching Atoms [Photo by Briar Creek Photography, published in the A-Blast]
Actions by Annandale High School football coaches—along with some players and parents—to force the AHS Marching Atoms off the field during half time at the Nov. 8 football game has generated a huge amount of attention.

An editorial published in the student newspaper, the A-Blast, Nov. 13, that calls those actions “rude” and “disrespectful” has generated 400 comments—and counting—a large majority of them in support of the band. 

According to the editorial, there were still a few minutes left in the halftime show when the parent of one of the players yelled, “Get the damn band off the field.” Coach Mike Scott and a few other coaches and players began yelling, too, and then Scott “started shaking the podium of junior Assistant Drum Major Douglas Nguyen and then yelling at the other Assistant Drum Major, senior Noah Wolfenstein, to stop conducting and get off the field.”

Fairfax County Public Schools issued this statement on Nov. 14: “Principal [Vincent] Randazzo is extremely concerned with how this situation was handled.  He is following up with all of the parties involved and will take whatever appropriate action is deemed necessary.”

Just before the yelling started, both the AHS football team and the opposing team from South County High School entered the field while the band was performing its second song. “Unfortunately this was not new,” the editorial states. “Throughout the entire 2013 season, the football team has been known to come too close to our performance, or even interrupt some of the students marching, while they performed.”

“For the marching band, there couldn’t have been any more disrespect shown to us, the band staff, the band alumni who were present, and the students,” the editorial states.

Just two weeks ago, the Marching Atoms received First Place, Best Music, and Best Visual awards at the US Bands Mid-Atlantic States Championships and won 2013 US Bands III Open State Champion and III Open National Champion awards at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. Meanwhile, the football team has only won one game during the 2013 season. It lost the game last Friday night 55-14.

Here is the entire text of a Keep in Touch email message Randazzo sent to the Annandale community Thursday afternoon:

“I want to provide you an update regarding the incident that occurred at last Friday night’s football game. Annandale High School honored its senior football players, cheerleaders, dance team and marching band members at the game. My office this week has been investigating the series of events that occurred while the marching band performed at halftime. I am extremely concerned and dismayed with how this situation was handled by the participants. We have been following up with all of the parties involved and will take whatever appropriate action is deemed necessary.  

“Coach Scott has offered to apologize to the band members for his actions, which I believe is a necessary first step. I did meet with our Marching Atoms following the game and told them how proud the entire Annandale community is of their accomplishments this year and how they embody all that is great about Annandale High School. At that time, I apologized to the students for the interruption of their halftime performance honoring their seniors.”

“I want to take this opportunity to again apologize to our band members, band parents, and the entire community for this incident. What happened shouldn’t have happened and I regret that it has tarnished what should have been a night of celebration for our seniors.

“We learn from our mistakes and we will move past this episode with a better understanding of the importance that mutual respect plays in our interactions with each other—students and staff members. I am very proud to be the principal of a school that has such talented students supported by a staff that is truly dedicated to helping our students achieve their full potential. Thank you for your understanding and continued support of Annandale High School.” 

14 comments:

  1. I am not sure an apology is sufficient for an incident that allegedly included a faculty member lashing out physically at a student.

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    1. I agree! The original article was shared with a band page on facebook, and someone suggested that he should volunteer to help out with the band boosters rather than just apologize

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  2. He should do volunteer work for the band boosters to make up for what he's done!

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  3. If I was principal of that school, I would be handing a few coaches a few pink slips.

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  4. It's interesting how AHS, FCPS, and the Post say that Mr. Randazzo sent an e-mail regarding this incident. My daughter goes to AHS and the first time I heard of this incident was last night on the Post's website.

    Mr. Randazzo needs to do more than apologize and ask Coach Scott to apologize. If what happened is true, it constitutes bullying and harassing behavior. I hope FCPS has standards on unacceptable behavior by staff members and consequences for those who engage in such behavior.

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  5. This was a sad week for Annandale schools! School leaders are setting very poor examples for students and the entire community.

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  6. Given that marching bands work at least as hard as, if not harder than football players; and given that the coach jeopardized the health of the drum major by physically shaking the platform he was conducting from and could easily have fallen from, the coach needs to be fired. Period. The drum major should have filed assault charges.

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    1. The band does not work harder than a football team. Sorry. I was a "bandy" and yeah they work hard but you don't see trumpet players with split lips or drummers with dislocated shoulders... Different gig.

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    2. ...sounds like that drum major might have ended up with a split lip or worse. Maybe the coach got one too many concussions when he was playing ball?

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  7. Are band nerds hated by jocks at Annandale High? There's another high school in Annandale, where the marching band has won statewide competitions, and the football team usually loses, and both band and team respect each other.

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  8. Had the band gone past thier allotted time? Players do need time to warm up. Having said that the coach sounds like a jerk.

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  9. Dan McKinnon11/15/13, 3:39 PM

    Let's see if I got this right. The AHS football team has won only one game, and the band wins awards? And the band has the students ejected from the field? Go figure.

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  10. Fairfax County School Board member Sandy Evans (Mason) said on Nov. 16 that having the coach apologize to the band is an appropriate response. "I am glad the principal deal with it clearly and firmly," she said. Whether the coach is fired or not "is up to the principal."

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  11. How about apologizing, not only to the band, but to all of the students? Publicly, and in person, not hiding behind an e-mail or letter. How about hearing the coach state that bullying is wrong, and what he did was quite plainly that.

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