Metro

Anti-Semitic graffiti found at Newton North High School

JOHN TLUMACKI/GLOBE STAFF/FILE

Newton North High School.

Three incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti have been reported at Newton North High School since Friday’s basketball game, at which student fans for an opposing team chanted “You killed Jesus,” the interim principal said in a letter to parents Wednesday.

Anti-Semitic graffiti was also found in a bathroom at Newton North in December, and last month four racist questions were submitted via an anonymous online site as the Black Leadership Advisory Club prepared for Black Culture Day, interim principal Mark Aronson wrote.

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“Following these incidents, I spoke with students, staff, advisors, and resource officers to insure our students felt supported and safe,” Aronson wrote. “In addition, I informed the attendees of Black Culture Day about these incidents and confirmed they would be addressed.”

In all cases, police were informed immediately and are working to identify those responsible, Aronson said.

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The community is still reeling from the verbal taunting between fans before the start of last Friday playoff game at Newton South High School between Newton North and Catholic Memorial High School.

Catholic Memorial administrators banned their students from attending the high school’s championship game Monday at TD Garden after some students chanted “You killed Jesus” at the game against Newton North. Some Newton fans had begun the taunting by mocking the all-boys Catholic school with chants of “where are your girls?” and “sausage fest,” which some construed as homophobic.

Officials at Catholic Memorial, of West Roxbury, reached out to Newton administrators and to the Anti-Defamation League, promising to address the issue with school assemblies and long-term curriculum changes.

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Newton School Superintendent David Fleishman said police are investigating whether there is any relationship between last Friday’s basketball game and what was found this week, but he said there is no evidence to suggest Catholic Memorial students were responsible for the graffiti.

Fleishman said the graffiti found at Newton North consisted of swastikas.

Aronson shared details of the latest incidents with Newton North faculty and staff on Tuesday, according to his letter, and on Thursday all students are invited to a discussion with the goal of creating an advisory council.

The council will “identify issues of race, gender, and cultural diversity and provide insight into how we can best address them within our schools and our community,” Aronson wrote. “I look forward to engaging our students and the community in a meaningful dialogue about how we can celebrate our diversity and draw strength from it.”

Fleishman said he visited Newton North on Wednesday and spoke with teachers who incorporated last Friday’s chanting incident into their lesson plans in History, Psychology, and Ethics classes.

“They talked about the impact of these incidents, the intent, and put it into a historical context,” Fleishman said.

“We are going to be working with teachers so that more of these types of discussions can be brought into the classroom,” he said. “We take this very seriously. We want our students to be thoughtful and respectful whether on their own, or in groups.”

Fleishman said programs will be implemented at both the city’s high schools so that students’ voices can be heard.

Meanwhile, Newton police are continuing to investigate three instances of anti-Semitic graffiti at F.A. Day Middle School, two of which went unreported by the principal there for several months.

Ellen Ishkanian can be reached at eishkanian@gmail.com.
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