The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) is apologizing to parents and students after it says a prank at a local high school pep rally went wrong—and was then posted and shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media.
On Thursday, Western Canada High School (WCHS) in downtown Calgary held a pep rally in support of fall sports teams. Students told Global News everything was going well until it came time for a prank on some male athletes that involved blindfolding students who would then be kissed by their moms.
Students suggest the athletes were made to believe the kisses would come from female athletes or girlfriends. When the “girls” were called to the front, it was instead mothers of the male athletes who were paired with their sons. Most of the moms gave a quick peck or a hug, while one captured on video continued to kiss the athlete for an extended period of time.
Several videos widely circulated online show the gym erupt with screams and cheers. The videos have since raised concerns about backlash against the male students and possible bullying following the school-sanctioned event.
“I don’t think anyone’s really being too mean to him but they’re making like memes,” said one Grade 11 student who was at the rally. “There are jokes going on which don’t really help anyone,” said another.
A student who called herself a good friend of the athlete in the WCHS videos said despite the hostile reaction, the student was taking the incident in relatively good humour, making jokes about it in his own social media posts. Global News is not identifying the students due to the sensitive nature of this story.
The school’s principal, Martin Poirier, sent a letter to parents Friday which CBE also forwarded to media organizations.
“The activity was intended to be good-natured; however it did not play out as intended,” Poirier said. “I would like to apologize for the activity. In hindsight, the school regrets how this unfolded.
“We recognize that these activities are not appropriate and will not be repeated.
“The school administration has met with the pep rally organizers to discuss the concerns. We have also reached out to the family involved to provide support. These types of pranks will no longer be allowed to occur and we sincerely regret any embarrassment this has caused.”
Ernest Manning High School in Calgary held a similar rally — including a similar prank — Tuesday. An Instagram post Thursday also showed moms lining up to give athletes a quick kiss. The post read: “Football players were told they would be kissing one of the girls from the Athletic Leadership. They were VERY surprised when their mothers came out to do the kissing!”