WEYMOUTH — Superintendent of Schools Jennifer Curtis-Whipple, School Committee Chair Lisa Belmarsh, Principal Alan Strauss and Interim Athletic Director Mia Muzio wish to address the significant public attention and controversy generated by a fundraising campaign and the school district’s reaction to the campaign.
In recent days, a proposal was submitted to the Weymouth Public Schools and approved to have a fundraiser by selling white t-shirts with the words “Weymouth Wildcats” on the front.
The fundraiser was approved as a way to show spirit and raise money for the girls soccer team. However, certain elements of the fundraiser, including posts on social media, some of which were made by people with no connection to the Weymouth Public Schools, caused concern. In addition, without the district’s knowledge, the fundraiser was being marketed as a whiteout event with t-shirts that said “Wildcat White Out” on the front.
Whiteouts are used at collegiate and high school games but are even seen occasionally in professional sports as a way to show spirit and motivate fans. Hosting a whiteout event in Weymouth would have been discussed among the administration and all stakeholders prior to its approval. In this case, the fundraiser application did not mention a whiteout event, only the sale of t-shirts.
School officials subsequently received approximately 15 messages from parents concerned about the messaging around this fundraiser. It was clear to the administration that further discussion was needed prior to hosting this event.
Taking into account all sides and after discussions between administrators and members of the booster club selling the shirts, the decision was made by all parties to cancel the fundraiser. Mindful of the concerns of all community members, the district is actively engaging in discussions with the sports programs and booster clubs to come up with additional fundraising efforts.
Unfortunately, the district’s messaging last week concerning the cancellation of this fundraiser was not clear enough, and it resulted in confusion.
The cancellation of this fundraiser was not intended as a punishment to the students, who to their credit have conducted themselves with maturity and understanding throughout this process.
To be clear, the students involved in the fundraising effort were only trying to raise money to support their team and have been unfortunately caught up in this situation. The school district will use this situation as a teachable moment for its employees and students so that no faculty, staff, student or family feels alienated or disenfranchised.
The Weymouth Public Schools and Superintendent Curtis-Whipple wish to sincerely apologize to the community and to the dedicated student-athletes for the way this issue was communicated.
Moving forward, the school district promises to more clearly communicate its reasoning and intentions with the community overall and will work toward finding ways to improve communication and collaboration with fundraising and booster groups.