Several people have anonymously expressed concerns with an event that took place Friday, May 25, the last day of school, at East Elementary School in Athens. Principal Andrea Bobo walked the school hallways spraying kids and teachers with water guns in what she has said was a yearly end-of-school-year gag.
“On the last day of school I did squirt water at students and staff members,” Bobo wrote in an email Tuesday. “This is something I’ve done as a building principal on the last day of school for several years and was always a greatly anticipated event.”
Despite the anonymous complaints made to The NEWS, Bobo said at the time that she had not heard of anyone who was upset by the ritual prank. “The parents, staff and students appeared to be having fun, and I was approached by several parents later that gave me positive feedback and loved that we ended the year in a lighthearted and fun manner,” she said.
One East Elementary educator – who provided identification but asked not to be named for fears of retaliation – said that Bobo had approximately eight large water guns with her in a backpack, and was squirting people with one of them. “Children were screaming; they were crying. It was horrendous... you could hear screams in each room that she entered,” the educator said. “She was on both floors; she shot teachers in the face; she shot children. Everybody was soaked.”
The unnamed educator argued that the prank was in “poor judgement” considering recent school shootings—including one that took place at an Indiana middle school that same day—and the fact that guns are not allowed in schools, not even in toy form. “Guns are not allowed in our school; we have signs everywhere posted,” the educator said. “If a child had done anything like that they would have been reprimanded…. How teachers have described it, their students were terrorized. Parents who have found out have called educators and said, ‘What is this about? We don’t know what they’re talking about,’ and after they find out they are incensed, also, that a principal would do this, that anybody would do this, in the climate of this country.”
Athens City Schools Supt. Tom Gibbs said in an email Friday that he had not received any phone calls, emails or complaints from parents regarding the issue as of that time. He declined to provide any other comments on the matter.
After hearing from The NEWS that some people had taken offense to her end-of-the-school-year gesture, Bobo acknowledged their concerns. “Upon reflection after your inquiry, this is an activity that I will discontinue in the future,” Bobo said in the email. “I certainly did not intend to make anyone uncomfortable by my actions.”