A headteacher at a school in New Jersey apologised to his black and minority students after they found the phrase ‘party like it’s 1776’ printed on prom tickets offensive.
Dennis Perry sent a letter to parents, students and community members at Cherry Hill High School apologising for the wording of the prom ticket, which he called “insensitive”.
Millions of African Americans were enslaved in America in 1776, and many black and minority students, as well as their parents, were offended at the lack of consideration by the school.
Dr Perry shared the letter on Twitter. It read:
Today, I learned that members of our school community were offended by a statement written on our Senior Prom ticket. Specifically, the statement on the prom ticket called for students to ‘…party like it’s 1776’. I am writing to apologise for the hurt feelings this reference caused for members of our school family.
It was insensitive and irresponsible not to appreciate that not all communities can celebrate was life was like in 1776. I especially apologise to our African American students, whom I have let down by not initially recognising the inappropriateness of this wording. You can expect that we will do better as a school community to produce well thought out, appropriate communications.
Dr Perry added that students no longer needed to provide the prom ticket at the door as the school has their names on record, and promised to provide students who attend prom a “commemorative” ticket with a new design.
Black students make up 6.2 per cent of the student body, 22.4 per cent are Asians and 5.6 per cent are Hispanic, according to the latest school report card, . The majority – 62.2 per cent - are white.
Lloyd Henderson, president of the Camden County NAACP East chapter told Courier Post:
[The tickets] are another example that culture at Cherry Hill East is one where African American students’ needs are not considered.
I do take some solace in the fact that Mr Perry immediately recognised and acknowledged the insensitivity of the comment.