MHS banner debacle: Take a deep breath

By Mike Henneke

I never planned to write about the great Madison High School Banner Scandal of 2013. Compared to school massacres, substance abuse and broken homes, school bullying, crumbling facilities, funding woes, shrinking test scores and teacher morale issues that plague schools across America, this shouldn’t take much of our time.

But it has. And we should be a little embarrassed.

 In case you’ve lived in a cave, two students at Madison High School rigged a banner to unfurl at the end of the National Anthem during a recent basketball game. As fans waited solemnly for the giant American flag to recede into the rafters, a smaller white banner with the words “Cats kick @#!*% ” unexpectedly dropped down for all to see.

Judging by the YouTube video posted on, the initial reaction for many in the crowd was one of delight. But administrators at Madison High School didn’t take kindly to it. Not at all.

Make no mistake about it. The youth behind the prank deserved to be disciplined to some degree. Having one senior climb into the rafters to install the banner creates a potential liability issue for the school.

That said, let’s take a deep breath, slow down and remember a few things.

• Had this banner not included the A-word, I bet there would be less hand-wringing from Madison officials. Too be certain, it’s a word I consider to be vulgar and try to refrain from using. Still this doesn’t even register a blip on the Potty Mouth Scale for Teens. Did you really expect them to say, “Cats kick buttocks?”

• Senior pranks have been around since Moses. I guarantee some jokers tried to put the principal’s chariot on the roof more than once.

•  Discipline is by definition training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character. If that’s true, the punishment for this prank seems excessive. While Madison High School officials won’t comment on the case, both seniors have been reportedly told they will be unable to graduate from Madison as a result of the prank. Among their limited options include Central High School for the rest of this year.

Hopefully school administrators will reconsider and lessen the punishment appropriately.

• If this is about sportsmanship or embarrassing the school, listen to some of insults lobbed at Rigby players from Madison faithful. Some might make you blush.

• Even if these boys did have earlier marks on their records, this prank did not injure anybody, break a law or disrupt the learning evironment.

• One of these times we’ll learn from events like this. Not how to pull off a similar prank, but how we respond. It would be a shame if we project a holier-than-thou attitude or judge others because of something like this. When they talk about Rexburg, hopefully it will be on a grander scale other than whispers of a “double standard” from time to time.

“Welcome to the wonderful world of we are better than everyone else,” said Andrew Mortensen on the Standard Journal Facebook page.

Our reaction as a school and community following a prank such as this is a chance to prove them wrong.

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