Early school closure cancels Sparrows Point pep rally
Wednesday, 18 September 2013 08:44

“Playoff pep rally” planned for October

by Bill Gates

    The Sparrows Point Alumni Association was pulling out all the stops for the Pointers’ 2013 Homecoming.
    A parade, complete with floats, down North Point Road. A big pep rally featuring all the fall athletic teams. Capped off by a huge bonfire as they burned a giant wooden ‘S.’
    And it was all undone by an inflexible Baltimore County Public Schools rule.
    When schools were closed two hours early on Sept. 11 due to excessive heat, all after-school activities were postponed or canceled.
    Even pep rallies organized and sponsored by alumni.
    “We’re devastated,” said alumni association member Debbie Gamble. “Too much time and work was put into this for this to happen. But it’s beyond our control.”
    Trying to salvage something, Sparrows Point is planning to hold a “playoff pep rally” in late October.

“We’re working with [the North Point Police Precinct] to transfer our parade permit to the week before the playoffs start,” Sparrows Point High principal Sam Wynkoop said. “It will be more of a playoff pep rally; we’ll still basically go with the same program, but shift it to focusing on the playoff teams.”
    So, if you built a float, hang onto it for now.
    Baltimore County schools spokeswoman Diana Spencer referred to the county policy and rules handbook, specifically Rule 6303.
    “When schools are closed for inclement weather, all events and the planned use of our facilities by non-BCPS organizations are canceled,” Spencer said.
    These rules and policies were created by the county Board of Education, “so it’s always possible they may change in the future,” Spencer said.
    But there’s two-feet-of-snow-on-the-ground inclement weather, and there’s it’s-a-little-hot inclement weather.
    The heat, which reached the mid-90s, would likely not have been a danger for students marching in a parade that began at 6:30 p.m., or being introduced on the stadium field.
    But the rule doesn’t allow for that distinction.
    When the announcement was made to close schools two hours early on Sept. 11, Wynkoop wasn’t sure the pep rally would be affected.
    “I called the county, tried to clarify the policy,” he said. “I said it was an alumni event, not a school event, and students were involved voluntarily.
    “The county said all after-school events were canceled.”
    The decision to close the schools early was made due to the high temperatures and the heat index.
    While the new Dundalk High-Sollers Point Technical schools are air-conditioned, 40 percent of Baltimore County public schools are not air-conditioned.
    “Because these schools are in all geographical regions, there are logistical challenges, such as transportation, that make it difficult to only close the impacted schools,” county spokesman Charles Herndon said.
    The “playoff pep rally” should be held some time during the third week of October, when the regional playoffs begin for soccer, field hockey and volleyball.
    The pep rally was intended by the Sparrows Point Alumni Association to revive an old tradition that included the burning of a giant ‘S.’
    The Pointer alumni secured support from the fire department and arranged for the permits to close North Point Road for the parade.
    “We were disappointed, but there is a silver lining,” Wynkoop said. “We’re going to put together something else with the alumni association.
    “This was an attempt to drum up some excitement. It will absolutely serve as a springboard to bring back this tradition every year.”