10/17/04 — Possibility of violence prompts homecoming game delay, closure

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Possibility of violence prompts homecoming game delay, closure

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on October 17, 2004 2:05 AM

Relatives of Goldsboro High School freshman Treme' Boone traveled from Maryland this weekend hoping to see the quarterback play in the big homecoming football game.

But they could only cheer him on from outside the gates because school officials learned Friday that two groups, not affiliated with any schools, were threatening violence at the football game.

Any information that Frank Edwards, Boone's uncle, wanted about the action on the field had to come from the football player's brother.

Boone's brother, 6-foot-7-inch Jonte, could see above the covered fence to keep other family members informed.

Though understanding the situation, Edwards said "it was just crazy" when family couldn't go see their relative play football.

School officials first heard about a possibility of violence at the game Friday morning.

Goldsboro High School Principal Pat Burden immediately began investigating by talking to students, staff members and the athletic director.

She said that the school received no direct threats, but heard about the planned violence from statements made by students.

"I had to confirm, who it was said by and then validate it," she explained.

School administrators met Friday afternoon and decided to postpone Friday night's game as a precautionary measure.

Public Relations Officer Kristy Fair said that it was part of the responsibility of Wayne County Public Schools to put safety for the students and their families first.

"They wanted to use this arena to resolve their issues, around a large crowd," said Goldsboro High School Principal Pat Burden."What they're doing is detrimental to students. Keep our schools out of it."

Ms. Burden said that they knew it would be difficult to monitor a large crowd at the game because people could maneuver in and out.

"Even if it was just a fight," she said, "it would have been invasive."

And the response from parents and others has been positive, said Ms. Burden.

"People have responded well when we explained," she said. "They understood and expressed how sorry they were that we got caught up in this."

And parents, from Goldsboro High School and Eastern Wayne High School, made generous donations to cover the loss of ticket sales expected from the game.

"Eastern Wayne has been very supportive, compassionate and generous," Ms. Burden said. "We were hosting, and it was up to us to bear certain costs, but they were very positive."

The threat of violence didn't stop all homecoming activities, Ms. Burden said. On Friday night the school crowned its homecoming king and queen.

"The parents were appreciative that we held the ceremony," Ms. Burden said.

Former Queen LaToya Booker, now attending N.C. Central University, crowned Charles Grantham as the new king, and Jamilla Smith was tapped as the new queen.

And though the crowd of parents at Saturday's game didn't begin to fill the empty bleachers beside the football field, they made up for it by cheering even louder for their kids.

A police investigation has not been launched yet because Ms. Burden didn't have names, but she did talk with the school's resource officer.

"On Monday, we will go and talk with the police chief and see what can be done," she said. "This needs to be resolved in the community."