Students from Northeast Academy for Health Sciences and Engineering said they were the victims of racist taunts during a recent playoff basketball game against Ketchum High School.
“Our expectation is that Ketchum would apologize and impress upon their students why this was an issue,” said Brian Corpening, a member of the Northeast enterprise school board. “We were offended — as we should be — by the behavior of the students.”
Ketchum threw candy and water on the cheerleaders and spit on the boys basketball team during a huddle in a March 2 playoff game in Claremore, one cheerleader wrote in a statement. One Ketchum student shouted references to the slavery movie “Roots.”
“We felt degraded and disrespected by the Ketchum fans,” the Northeast student wrote.
Ketchum High School Principal Joe Gramlich said he didn't attend the game and was unaware of the allegations.
“I did not hear that,” Gramlich said when reached over the phone Friday. “That's the first I've heard of that.”
Attempts to reach additional Ketchum officials were unsuccessful.
Ketchum is a town of about 450 residents in Craig County, according to the U.S. Census. About 75 percent of its residents are white. No black people reportedly lived in the town during the 2010 Census; about 450 black people lived in all of Craig County at the time.
About 85 percent of students are black at Northeast Academy, 3100 N Kelley, according to Oklahoma City Public Schools data.
Oklahoma City Superintendent Karl Springer said the situation was “troubling.” He wrote a letter about the incident to the Ketchum superintendent and the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association.
“We want to make sure that the Ketchum superintendent and the community recognize what happened, so we brought it to their attention,” Springer said Friday.
Northeast Principal Mylissa Hall also wrote a letter to Ketchum and the OSSAA, said Corpening, the school board member. In addition, the letter was sent to school board members in Ketchum, Oklahoma City, the NAACP and members of the state Black Caucus.
The incident is “disheartening,” said Corpening, who is assistant provost for diversity and community partnerships at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Parents, educators and other adults must be vigilant to ensure students understand and appreciate the history of all races.
“That's what the whole thing is about — a lack of knowledge, a lack of awareness,” he said. “That's what we as adults have to fight for.”