Seneca Valley High School principal Marc Cohen sent a letter to the community yesterday (Saturday, October 16th) addressing the fight that ended the Seneca Valley/Northwest football game early and the increase in fights at the school this year.
Per the letter, there will be additional security, counselors, central office staff, and MCPD onsite at Seneca Valley beginning on Monday morning to help assure a safe and orderly learning environment.
The full letter can be seen below:
“Dear Seneca Valley High School Community,
Good evening families. Before I address the issues from last night’s football game, I want to take a moment to thank the over two thousand students, parents, and community members from Seneca Valley High School and Northwest High School who exhibited great sportsmanship and contributed to a friendly, yet competitive, fan experience. I also want to thank our Boosters and Outback Steakhouse for all your hard work making last night’s Outback Night concessions possible and for your contributions to our inaugural Hall of Fame inductions. We have a wonderful community and for most of the evening we had an exciting community event.
Unfortunately, as many of you are aware, late in the third quarter of the game we experienced a series of student fights that created serious and significant interruptions to the safety and security of the event. In partnership with the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD), we were able to remove those who were fighting, but decided it was in the best interest of all involved to end the game.
I understand that there are rumors in the community about the brandishing of a weapon in one of these fights. At this time, I have no evidence to support that this happened. We did have one student transported to the hospital during the game. This was unrelated to any of the fights. The student suffered an injury attempting to climb over a fence to get into the game. I have spoken with the student and his parent and have confirmed that these were the circumstances behind his injury.
I have been the principal at Seneca Valley for twelve years and have always been proud of the maturity and problem-solving ability of our students. It is important to remember that the vast majority of our over 2100 students are not participating in these dangerous behaviors. Instead, they are engaging in their schoolwork, playing sports, joining clubs and other extracurricular activities, and experiencing the joy and fun of high school. It is also important to note though that the small number of students who are choosing fighting as their best option for addressing conflict, are compromising the safety and security of us all, and that cannot continue.
In the coming days, I will be reaching out to parents and students to collaborate on a plan to address the increase in fighting behaviors that we have seen this school year. I will be reaching out for support from the MCPS Department of School Safety and Security, the Department of Student and Family Support and Engagement, the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, and the Montgomery County Police Department, to help us address this significant challenge. The partnership between each of us is critical in the development of this comprehensive plan.
I am appealing to each of you to speak to your students today and to continue to reinforce that fighting is never the right answer. If your child needs help developing different strategies or making different choices, please have them contact me, their counselor, or their administrator. We are here to help.
To ensure a sense of increased safety and security among staff, students, and families, we will have MCPS resources including additional security, counselors, central office staff, and MCPD onsite at Seneca Valley beginning on Monday morning. Assuring a safe and orderly learning environment for each student within our community remains a top priority.
Marc J. Cohen, Ed. D.