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Hidden in the Masses
Pink Out game incident leaves school district reflecting on school safety.
April 19, 2023
On Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, Francis Howell Central played Francis Howell North in the large gym at 7pm. It was the ‘Coaches vs. Cancer’ game and also the ‘Future Spartan Night,’ in which cheerleaders in third through eighth grade perform during halftime with all of their family and friends watching.
It was an incredibly crowded basketball game and the tensions were running high. Not only are FHC and FHN long time rivals, the game was also bouncing back and forth the whole night, so much so that it ran into overtime and the final tie-breaking basket was made in the last 10 seconds.
There was a bright red clock on the wall, seconds ticking away more rapidly than they should. There were feet stomping, hands clapping, and voices shouting so loud the ground underneath shook. There was the heat of over 1,500 excited bodies on the edge of their seats.
But, while they were watching the game with clenched fists and hope in their eyes in the gym, something much more tense was happening just a short walk away in front of the main office. Principal Suzanne Leake and FHN principal Jeffery Fletcher were among the crowd that night.
“I was informed that there was a student potentially in possession of a firearm after the police were with him already,” Dr. Leake said.
This incident was brought to the attention of school officials within minutes of the end of the game.
“We found out the night of the game, right around the end of regulation/overtime.” Fletcher said.
Since both principals were in the audience, this was just as scary for them as it was for us, but thankfully, school officials were able to keep the issue contained until the appropriate time came for them to announce it.
“Honestly, I felt okay about it because I knew he was with the police. And, you know, being someone who was here that night and in the middle of everything in the gym, I didn’t have any idea that this was happening at the time, I felt like at the time if I’m being honest, not many people knew this was even happening. When the student was taken or stepped to the side with the police, not many people saw that and word had not yet traveled to me via students or parents but then finally it traveled to me through school officials.” Dr. Leake says.
However, upon exiting the game, families were met with a fight that consisted of at least 8 people, being pulled apart and separated by authorities.
“It was definitely not something I was expecting to see. I’ve been going to Central since freshman year and I’ve only seen like a handful of fights, so walking out to such a big one was just really weird.” Says senior Faith Rekosh, who was in attendance that night.