NEW PRAGUE, Minn. - The spring play “Foreigner” at New Prague High School has been canceled.
Inside the school, the stage is set but the show will not go on. And it all stems from a Snapchat photo taken by a student participating in the play. The image shows the final scene of the play, which depicts members of the KKK. The photo was captioned, “I think you are gonna wanna see this play."
The social media post and its caption concerned many students, including Hong Kang.
Kang, a junior at the high school, posted the image on her Facebook expressing concern. Her post has been shared more than 64 times. And there are more than 100 comments.
“I’m just disappointed and disgusted how the school would allow this to happen. I'm beyond mad right now,” Kang wrote in her Facebook post Friday.
Monday, Kang told KARE 11 she was “shaking and upset” when she saw the image on a Snapchat story.
“It's one thing to teach kids, but it's another thing to dress up and act,” she said.
Hang and her friend, Morgan Dawson, both said the existence of the photo is evidence the students involved are taking lightly a serious situation. Dawson is a senior at the school made up of 1,300 students. The principal, Lonnie Seifert, says 56 are nonwhite and 12 are black.
On Monday morning, Kang, Dawson and other students met with school administrators, parents, and the director of the play.
After meeting with the students, school board members and others, Seifert said the play was canceled due to the atmosphere that was created by the situation, not because of the play’s content.
“Unfortunately, the post that went out is going to take away from the message of the play,” Seifert said. “It would be in our best interest not to run the play at this time out of respect for our students and all members of the community.”
Morgan Dawson said while the director says the intent of the play is to promote inclusion and acceptance, the social media post conveyed something else.
“It did just the opposite," she said. "It makes blacks feel more and more excluded. The administration did take the right step toward inclusiveness by canceling the play.”
The decision to cancel the play was met with opposition. Students Ryan Dolan said Nathan Enge said it is unfair to punish the people who were participating in the play.
“I am a little bit upset because I think it was taken out of proportion," Enge said. "You can’t cut out history. The Ku Klux Klan is a historical thing."
Dolan, who was planning to attend one of the performances, said he would have like to see the scene featuring KKK costumes eliminated.
“I don't think the school should've canceled the play,” Dolan said. “While the image was offensive and racially motivated it should not contain the power to cut off the entire school play. The play as an entirety should not have been canceled.”
“I do feel bad for the kids who were in the play and the fact that they put in all this hard work,” Kang said. “Our goal was not to have the play canceled but we are tired of people telling us what we should be offended by and what we shouldn't be offended by.”
"The Foreigner" is a two-act comedy by American playwright Larry Shue.