WILTON–After athletes yelled offensive comments at players on the opposing team, one school has issued an apology to the other.
On November 11, Wilton High School and Danbury High School faced each other on the gridiron. During the game, a few of the Wilton students chanted “build the wall” directed towards players of the other team.
On Friday, Wilton High School’s principal, Robert William O’Donnell, emailed a letter of apology to Danbury High School’s principal, Dan Donovan.
“We recognize that it is not the intent of our students’ words and actions that matter, but rather the impact on your students, your school, and the Danbury community that truly matters,” the letter said, in part.
However, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton did feel like the intent was exactly what it seemed to be.
“There was a feeling that there was an intention there to hurt our kids and so it became problematic for us,” Boughton said. “I don’t think they really understand what them saying that, and chanting that to our kids in the field could mean and that’s why we’ve gotta look at this as a learning situation where we can all communicate a little bit better.”
He added that while he respects the kids’ free speech, the manner it was portrayed in was offensive.
“If you walk around and say my policy and position is to build a wall, there’s nothing wrong with that people may not agree with you, but there’s nothing wrong with that, but when you use it in a derogatory sense to a group of students who are very diverse and many of them are Hispanic, it could be taken in a very different way,” he said
The letter from Wilton to Danbury, meanwhile, addressed that topic a bit as well: “We would like you to know that this behavior is not emblematic of our general beliefs, nor something that is congruent with our vision statement, which champions the important constructs of leadership, integrity, and empathy. Clearly, some of our students fell short of meeting these standards on that night.”
Danbury’s population is 25 percent Hispanic or Latino, while Wilton’s is 3 percent.
“We have one of the most diverse high schools in the state,” Boughton said. “49 different languages spoken, we have kids from all over the world.”
Danbury High School junior Camrie Mancuso also saw the difference in diversity between the schools as an issue. She said, “We’re more of a diverse school compared to them, like in ethnic backgrounds and stuff, so they were screaming that at us because we’re very diverse. That’s where it kind of got racist and our school took offense to that.”
Mancuso said the Danbury High School principal read the apology letter to the students over the loud speaker on Friday.
And while Boughton accepts the apology, he’s glad it came. In fact, he had requested it on Thursday: