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Christmas Sweater Club Punished At Local High School

6:48 AM, Dec 22, 2010   |    comments
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HAYMARKET, Va. (WUSA) -- They call themselves the "Christmas Sweater Club" because they wear the craziest ones they can find. They also sing Christmas songs at school and try their best to spread Christmas cheer.

Now all 10 of them are in trouble because of what they did at their school.

"They said, 'maliciously maim students with the intent to injure.' And I don't think any of us here intentionally meant to injure anyone, or did," said Zakk Rhine, a junior at Battlefield High School.

The boys say they were just tossing small two-inch candy canes to fellow students as they entered school. The ones in plastic wrap that are so small they often break apart.

Skylar Torbett, also a junior, said administrators told him, "They said the candy canes are weapons because you can sharpen them with your mouth and stab people with them." He said neither he nor any of their friend did that.

Next thing they knew, they were all being punished with detention and at least two hours of cleaning. Their disciplinary notices say nothing about malicious wounding but about littering and creating a disturbance.

"It was at 7 in the morning, before school even starts, so I don't what we'd be really disrupting," said Cameron Gleason, also a junior.

Principal Amy Etheridge-Conti says she can't comment on the students' discipline but did say there was a lot more to it than handing out candy and that the discipline was warranted.  

The boys admitted their incident may have caused litter since some kids dropped their candy canes on the floor.  But Cameron Gleason said he spent an hour cleaning up the dropped candy.   

The boys' parents think the school went overboard and maybe administrators were trying to stop their boys from spreading Christmas cheer.

Mother Kathleen Flannery said an administrator called her and explained "not everyone wants Christmas cheer. That suicide rates are up over Christmas, and that they should keep their cheer to themselves, perhaps."

Patti Gleason, the mother of Cameron Gleason says, "I am 100 percent sure they did nothing wrong. We've gotten so many different stories. It went from maiming kids with candy canes, to littering. And then when received the referral (disciplinary notice) it said 'disruption.' So nobody really knew what they were getting in trouble for, they were just making up a whole bunch of different things."

But, like Who's of Whoville, the boys are still singing, not letting what happened to them dampen their cheer.

Written by Peggy Fox
9NEWS NOW & wusa9.com

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