OGDEN -- Nine Ogden High School senior cheerleaders have been suspended for hazing incoming cheerleaders. Several other students are also being investigated for possible involvement in the hazing and could also face suspension.
The district officially labeled the act as hazing, which is a Level 4 violation in the district's code of conduct.
The hazing occurred over the weekend of May 4, soon after new cheerleaders were notified they had made the high school's cheerleading team.
The 16 girls were informed by their adviser that they would be initiated as part of the school's cheerleading tradition, said the mother of one of the younger cheerleaders.
District spokeswoman Donna Corby said the adviser apparently was unaware of what was to transpire and when.
Two mothers and one of the hazed cheerleaders spoke to the Standard-Examiner. All requested anonymity so as not to add further trauma to an already traumatic experience.
One of the mothers said she dropped off her daughter and another cheerleader at a local park. The cheerleader said they were told to bring cute clothes and be prepared for a photo session. The incoming cheerleaders were very excited, the girl said.
But what transpired turned out to be what the girl labeled as the worst experience of her life. She and 13 other cheerleaders who showed up were blindfolded, then told to lie on the ground and do sit-ups, push-ups and a series of cheers while they were pelted with various food items and liquids.
They were called names, including swearing, and told they were worthless. The girl said among the items she thinks were thrown at them were ketchup, mustard, pickle juice and maybe urine.
Flour was also thrown at the girls, causing some of the girls to have difficulty breathing, said one of the mothers who spoke with the Standard-Examiner.
After the incident, the girls were taken to the home of one of the senior cheerleaders and told they could strip down to their underwear and be hosed off.
The cheerleader told her mother what happened on the drive home.
"My mom said it wasn't right and that it was hazing," the cheerleader said.
By Monday morning, the mother went to school authorities and found out she was the third parent that had reported the incident.
"I know there was some parents that were steaming mad," the mom said.
"I don't think they intended for things to go as far as they did. But at some point you would think they would have stopped."
The cheerleader said a text was sent to other members of the student body to come to the park with a condiment to throw on the cheerleaders.
Although she was blindfolded, she said she could hear male voices and felt there were many people participating in the event besides the senior cheerleaders.
Administrators are still investigating whether additional students were involved in the hazing.
Another mother said one of the cheerleading captains sent a note apologizing for the event and told the girls the initiation went too far.
The first mom said she feels a little better about the way the school has handled the situation by suspending the girls and that easing her feelings were the notes and some personal apologies that have come from the cheerleaders.
Corby said the district has a very strict anti-hazing policy and that this particular incident is considered to be a Level 4 violation.
The suspensions were handed down May 11 following an investigation by school officials.
The girls will be allowed to graduate next week, Corby said.
Tthe cheerleader and the mothers said some parents are considering pressing criminal charges against the girls who are older than 18. Corby said she had no information on that.
It could not be immediately determined Monday whether the Ogden Police Department has received any complaints about the incident.
Corby said the district is alarmed and disappointed in the behavior of the cheerleaders.
"It is incredibly inappropriate behavior, and we take it very seriously," Corby said.
She noted that it doesn't reflect well on the proud traditions at Ogden High and the excellent tradition of the Ogden High cheerleaders.
The first mom is also concerned about how traumatized some of the girls are. Some of them don't want to wear the clothing that they wore during the hazing incident, and some don't want to talk about it at all.
She feels frustrated because she had the understanding there would be advisers there to supervise, but there weren't.
The cheerleader who spoke to the Standard-Examiner wants to change any future initiation to make it fun and a bonding experience.
"Oh, you can bet this will never happen again," she said.
The hazing incident is disappointing to the cheerleader's mother.
"The cheerleaders don't have the best reputation, and my daughter wants to change that. I hope she can," the mom said.
Corby said the incident is unfortunate and the school is on high alert about any kind of hazing or initiation for new members of any clubs or teams.
Level 4 infraction
"These acts of misconduct include those behaviors which are described as seriously disrupting the safe and orderly educational process in the classroom, on school grounds or at any school-related function or activity. In many cases, these behaviors are also illegal."
Source: Ogden School District discipline code