As a community, we must support and forgive PDT


Brady Johnson, Sports Editor

At the request of LOSD Superintendent Dr. Heather Beck, a third-party investigation was filed in regards to an alleged incident of hazing and bullying surrounding Pacer Dance. From Nov. 6-Dec. 5, details, interviews and documentation was gathered by the outside party investigators.

According to the Hungerford Law Firm, “Hazing of students occurred on the evening of August 9, 2014. The head coach confirmed in writing to a colleague in early September that she knew hazing occurred. An adult’s eye witness account of these events has not been challenged in terms of what was conveyed.”

By no means is hazing acceptable on any team or organization at this school, but the current and former members of PDT shouldn’t feel as though one evening has forever damaged their reputations or ruined their high school experiences.

Through verbal lashings over social media, embellished rumors swirling around about what exactly went down on the night of Aug. 9 and assaults on their character, the girls involved have faced too much.

Students, parents, media outlets and all Lake Oswegians: I implore you to change your attitudes. And we can start this through our language.

The girls on this team are good students who have been embodiments of true Pacers and ambassadors for this community during their time at Lakeridge.

LHS Principal Jennifer Schiele couldn’t have said it any better: “This is about learning from our mistakes in order to ensure that students aren’t in this position in the future. It’s important to focus on who we really want to be.”

“I’m hoping that what good comes from this is that we learn, we improve and we forgive,” she said.

Rather than diminish the accolades and handiwork of a team that was the state champion in the jazz category for fall competition season, everyone associated with LHS must band together and support one another, especially this team, in a time when our school district hasn’t been in the local media outlets good graces.

Pointing fingers and calls for suspensions and/or firings is like dumping kerosene on an already burning fire. It does no one any good.

Critics appear to be unaware that Schiele and the other members of the LHS administration instantly took the appropriate steps to better not only PDT and the school’s athletic department as a whole, but the entire student body as well.

“Coaching staffs for all teams will receive training in May on hazing and bullying, there’s an assembly on Feb. 13 about bullying and I’m attending a training session on hazing as well,” said Schiele.

A lot of positives can in fact come from this mess, but only if the city of Lake Oswego and its citizens will allow it.

If anyone’s goal was to cripple this team through the investigation, it certainly hasn’t worked.

When asked if their team has grown stronger and performed better because of this delicate situation, members of PDT were quick to assert that they’re still as tight-knit a family as ever.

“Yeah, if anything, it makes us want to work harder,” said senior Bella Stephens. “We’ve definitely gotten closer and bonded more through this.”

Added freshman Mallory Spring, “We all have each other’s backs. A bonded team makes a better team on the dance floor.”

“I don’t think the judges are biased against us because of the publicity we’ve had.”

I hope pundits are well aware of the countless behind-the-scenes efforts this team takes to get itself ready for competition days. A team like the one being portrayed in the media wouldn’t be as dedicated as PDT is in actuality.

It is why I have taken time to propose the means necessary to create a desirable ending to all of this.

I first ask all of whom read this not to mock, to berate, to criticize or to conspire against any current or former PDT member. They deserve far better than the treatment being given and have been wronged. I know how genuine a group they are.

Secondly, I cannot stress enough that attacks on the LHS administration only worsens the current matter. Dr. Schiele has taken the necessary actions to resolve this matter and shouldn’t feel as though she is responsible for what happened. This was an off-campus extracurricular activity not directly supervised by her.

Please, don’t let this situation melt the excellence of LHS and Pacer Dance Team.

It’s not worth it.

It’s about unrequited forgiveness and empathy right now.