UPDATED: Backlash Prompts Apology From St. Teresa's Students Who Posed With Swastika

Sep 25, 2017

Updated, 3:06 p.m. Monday: St. Teresa’s Academy alumnae, who were outraged after a group of students shared photos of them playing “Jews vs. Nazis” beer pong, say the girls’ apology is insufficient.

The apology came late Sunday evening after classmates allegedly shouted “Nazi” and “racist” at the girls during the Teresian homecoming dance.

Carla Ingraham, a 1977 St. Teresa’s graduate and the mother of two daughters who graduated from the school, says she’s appalled by administration’s reaction to Snapchat posts that showed members of the junior class posing with plastic cups arranged in the shape of a swastika.

“If these girls are juniors, that means two more years. It appears St. Teresa’s is more interested in protecting these girls from the consequences of their actions than protecting the Academy,” Ingraham says.

Ingraham says the administrator that returned her call questioned whether the cups had actually been arranged in the shape of a swastika.

“The girls not only knew it was wrong, but they decided to take pictures of their smiling faces around a swastika,” Ingraham says, adding that she doubts the girls would have apologized if not for media backlash. “This is not a teachable moment for them. They’ve been taught. Now it’s time for them to go somewhere else.”

Ingraham says she won’t be satisfied with the school’s response until the students are expelled, which St. Teresa’s has said it won’t do.

Other private schools have expelled students for playing the game. A student was kicked out of the Lovett School in Atlanta after he posed with a swastika while playing the drinking game.

In recent days, alumnae have been leaving one-star reviews of St. Teresa’s on Facebook. Ingraham says there’s a St. Teresa’s reunion coming up in October that many alumnae now plan to skip. She also says they won’t donate to an ongoing capital campaign.

The original post continues below.

Nine St. Teresa’s Academy students who posted photos of them playing beer pong with cups arranged in the shape of a swastika on Snapchat have apologized to their peers.

Outraged alumnae of St. Teresa's Academy called for the girls who played beer pong with cups arranged in the shape of a swastika to be expelled from the Catholic college prep high school.
Credit Facebook

The note was emailed to St. Teresa’s students, faculty and staff late Sunday after a week of mounting tension between the girls and their classmates. KCUR reported on Friday that the student who alerted administrators to the anti-Semitic social media posts had been bullied at school.

St. Teresa’s alumnae were outraged that the girls involved only received a day of in-school suspension for the social media posts and weren’t barred from attending Teresian, the school’s version of homecoming.

Junior Katie Gregory, a friend of the student who reported her classmates, says at the dance Saturday night, several of the girls involved in the incident had “racist” and “Nazi” shouted at them.

The apology came the next day. In an email, St. Teresa’s Academy president Nan Bone wrote that she had stripped the students’ names from the letter because she expected it to go viral.

The girls’ apology is below.

Dear STA students, faculty and staff,
 

We are writing this letter today to acknowledge our terrible mistake. We participated in a drinking game that involved moving cups in the form of a swastika. The symbol was mistakenly and ignorantly formed with no racist intent. We could not be more remorseful knowing we unintentionally hurt many. Our terrible actions have devastated our community and the strong reputation of STA women has been tarnished. We are sincere in our apologies towards our fellow students, faculty and all else effected by our actions. We respect the opinions of everyone, knowing you are speaking from your heart. We acknowledge the pain our actions have caused and fully recognize the terror that is associated with the swastika symbol. To reconcile our actions we plan on doing service to those affected by the hatred this symbol stands for. The thought of anyone feeling unsafe, uncomfortable or unwelcome because of our incredibly inconsiderate actions is sickening to us. We want to remember and learn from this mistake moving forward. We hope the girls that brought this to the attention of the school community know that we respect them and harbor no ill feelings. We are asking for your forgiveness knowing it will take time to earn back your respect. It will be at the forefront of everything we do moving forward. We aim to emphasize that we had no intention of aligning our actions with bigotry. Despite our mistake, we do stand with all of you against any form of discrimination. Our hope is to move forward in unity and love

St. Teresa’s administrators have avoided using words like “swastika” and “anti-Semitic” in their communications with students, parents and alumnae, choosing instead to describe it as an incident that has caused “distress to our community.” A Facebook post explaining the school’s reasoning for not expelling the students attracted hundreds of comments.

Elle Moxley covers Missouri schools and politics for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.