By Clara Glendale | Only reporter available on Friday to cover this
A classroom debate held Thursday at Bass Lake High School turned ugly.
Debate focus: Which is a more valid environmental observance — Earth Day (scheduled for April 22) or Arbor Day (set for April 24)?
The debate was held April 23, to split the difference, said Robert Barley-Stevens, the speech teacher who organized the assignment.
Discourse ensued in a positive direction, but the situation soured quickly, said BLHS student Gilbert Braxton, probable salutatorian and current statistician for BL High’s boys’ track team.
“It went from constructive to ‘WTF’ in less time than it would take a world-class runner to traverse 5,000 meters,” Braxton said.
Division among student-students escalated, eventually spilling into the streets of Bass Lake.
The anti-Earth Day faction overturned recycling bins that lined alleys uptown. Arbor Day-haters uprooted trees along the lake. Students in each faction were accused of sipping cheap wine from plastic cups during the melee.
Social media exploded with similar in-fighting. We’ll get to that later.
Identity of students designated as primary debate leaders was not revealed, school officials hinted.
Students rioted for about 45 minutes, but eventually lost interest, then headed home to eat supper.
No one was seriously injured during the escapades, according to Bass Lake Authority Police, summoned to restore order, but only after the disturbance had subsided.
“Nobody got shot to death,” said bicycle-patrol administrator Tug McNabb. “That’s the best scenario in this type of scenario.”
Barley-Stevens was audibly shaken during a phone interview with the Beacon.
“I envisioned the debate as an educational leap into public discourse,” Barley-Stevens said. “I guess I should’ve just pursued a career in banking. I made a huge mistake.”
Disciplinary measures are possible, said superintendent Sam Herling.
“I don’t even know where to start,” said Mr. Herling.