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Illicit CP - June 2002

Corpun file 9380

Black Hills Pioneer, Spearfish, South Dakota, 10 June 2002

Spearfish schools fight hazing tradition

By Kris Garlick-Beaty
Black Hills Pioneer

SPEARFISH - Despite efforts to stem a hazing tradition at Spearfish High School, two separate "paddling" episodes were confirmed recently by high school administrators.

According to high school principal Dan Leikvold, a handful of high school girls and boys were involved. They reportedly "paddled" one or more incoming freshmen students on two separate occasions after school on May 9 and 10.

"We're uncertain how many students were victimized," said Leikvold. "We called a dozen eighth-grade parents. We can confirm more than one student and a couple incidents."

The eighth-grade students were picked up on school grounds and driven off campus by high school students, said Leikvold. They were taken to an undisclosed location and struck with wooden paddles. No major physical injuries were reported.

"After a huge investigation, we've whittled it down to a handful of kids," said Leikvold. "They are being held accountable."

Because they were taken off campus, the Spearfish Police were called to investigate, however, no charges were filed.

Leikvold said he began implementing measures to halt the hazing incidents two years ago when he became principal. He added specific anti-hazing language to the school's student handbook.

In addition, an advisory warning high school students not to engage in hazing ran in the daily announcements the week of the graduation dance, a common time for reported incidents. Also, five student council members from the high school gave talks to the eighth-grade classes that same week informing them about a tradition of initiations and encouraged them to take safety measures.

"The school has investigated and taken appropriate disciplinary action," Leikvold said. "I think we addressed this. Hazing and initiation is not appropriate. It is not a right of passage. ... I think we handled it appropriately."

Leikvold said the administration would look at what might be done differently in the future.

The Black Hills Pioneer Newspapers, South Dakota, SD 2002

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