Racist names, swastikas displayed during Sidwell Friends assembly

Sidwell Friends School in northwest Washington,Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008. Michelle Obama and her daughters Sasha and Malia visited their top choices for schools "to make sure we find the right fit." A small motorcade was parked outside the Sidwell Friends school for about 40 minutes, and a similar motorcade was at the back entrance of Georgetown Day School on Monday. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)(ASSOCIATED PRESS/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

An investigation is underway after racist names and swastikas were displayed on big screens during a Thursday assembly at the private Sidwell Friends School in Northwest D.C.

It happened when Upper School students gathered for a presentation about OnSide, a student-founded project which uses soccer to help bolster an understanding between people of different backgrounds.

Following the presentation, students took part in an online game, using their cellphones to answer questions.

Their answers, along with the submitter’s username, were projected onto large screens.

Some of the usernames were racist toward Asians and Native Americans. Two usernames contained swastikas.

Once the offensive words and symbols were noticed, the school’s assistant dean told presenters to turn the screens off and end the assembly.

An investigation is underway to determine which students are responsible.

In a letter to parents on Thursday afternoon, Head of Sidwell Friends School Bryan Garman called the incident a serious breach of the school’s honor code and harassment policy.

“I am disappointed, dismayed and deeply sorry that such an incident could take place at our school. Racism and anti-Semitism will not be tolerated in this community,” Garman wrote.

“We must strive always to live the question posed in our diversity statement: “How do we nurture a sense of belonging in our community and demonstrate our commitment to a just world?”

Garman will address Upper School students directly on Friday morning.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up