Newport Harbor High School held a community meeting Monday after several of their students were seen saluting a swastika made of red plastic cups at a weekend party, The Los Angeles Times reports.
The Newport-Mesa Unified School District is investigating the images posting to social media showing teens laughing and toasting over the swastika, which appears to have been used in a drinking game.
“German rage,” one caption said.
“Ultimate rage,” another Snapchat user wrote.
Students from Costa Mesa High School and Estancia High School were also at the party, The Times reported.
“While these actions did not occur on any school campus or school function, we condemn all acts of anti-Semitism and hate in all their forms,” Newport-Mesa Supt. Fred Navarro said in a statement.
The district is working with local police departments on the investigation.
One student who was pictured in the images told another student in an online message that it was a “joke.”
“You are stupid if you think we actually support what Hitler did,” the unidentified student wrote. “It was a joke. None of us are … Nazi supporters.”
Teens Seen in Images Apologize: ‘We Made a Very Big Mistake’
A parent of one of the students told The Los Angeles Times that he invited a Holocaust scholar to his home to speak with nine teens who attended the party. “Some teens who had defended the behavior at the gathering did not accept invitations to his home, but the students who did go expressed remorse and decided to write apology letters,” The Times reported.
The parent released the letters to the Times on Monday.
“I want to express my deepest remorse and regret,” one student wrote.
“I made a poor decision,” another teen said.
“We made a very big mistake,” one of the letters read.
“I am so sorry,” said another student.
“My actions were disgusting, appalling, irresponsible.”
School Condemns Images
On Monday, The Times reported that students wore different shades of blue in solidarity with the Jewish community.
“I’m very glad that we are all making a statement that the vast majority of us believe that this is disgusting,” senior Sam Quattrociocchi told The Times. “Some people at the party thought they were making an edgy joke, and they were completely wrong.”
“As an organization dedicated to representing the students of Newport Harbor High School, we and the school administration denounce and condemn all acts of anti-semitism and hate in any form,” members of the school’s Associated Student Body said in a statement on social media. “Any negativity due to any type of persecution is utterly wrong, unacceptable and will not be tolerated. … With all of the bad out there, we encourage everyone to turn to goodness, kindness and respect over hatred.”
Newport Harbor Principal Sean Boulton said the images show that the school must “do more.”
“The goal of the event is to start a significant conversation to take us to a place where this sort of behavior never happens again in our community,” Boulton said. “Over the past few years, all Newport-Mesa schools have worked tirelessly to eliminate prejudice, hate and bullying and continually work toward true tolerance and equality. We are obviously not there yet, but the journey continues.
“Diversity is the backbone of our schools, but in this social and social media climate, we are subject to hate, offensive acts/language and religious intolerance. We must and can do more.”