Raucous show of support for Singleton turns heads

Students protest firing of Reservoir football coach

November 22, 2003|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Howard County school system spokeswoman Patti Caplan, a 16-year veteran at her job, said she doesn't remember anything like what happened at Reservoir High on Thursday.

At least 100 students staged a protest trying to save the job of former football coach Sam Singleton, whose contract was not renewed following this season - the 2-year-old school's first at the varsity level.

Caplan said that three students were suspended because of their actions during the demonstration.

"They were just hoping to get me my job back," said Singleton, 54, who remains a physical education teacher and track coach at the school. "But our principal [Adrian Kaufman] told them it's not going to happen."

The three-hour protest drew assistant superintendent Roger Plunkett, chief of staff Mark Blom, coordinator Rick Marquart and security officer Steve Drummand to the school.

It began about 7:15 a.m. when about 100 students - some wearing "Save Sam" T-shirts - gathered in front of the cafeteria. They remained there when it was time to start class at 7:30.

"They [school administration] came and got me and I asked the students to go back to class, but they said they wanted to know why I got fired and said they weren't leaving until they got a reason," Singleton said. "They were threatened with a six-day suspension but they still didn't move."

Kaufman and athletic director Ken Klock arrived and started answering questions by 8:30 a.m. "But the kids got no satisfaction," said Singleton.

Plunkett ordered all signs supporting Singleton removed from the school the previous day.

By 9 a.m., a half-hour after the second period should have begun - students were held in the first class as school officials tried to resolve the situation - bells rang and the students had 10 minutes get to the next class. About 200 more students joined in and were chanting and banging on walls, said Singleton.

Singleton said that administrators started calling some students' parents and dividing the crowd into small groups and promising no suspension if they returned to class.

"It's a sad situation and people are just doing anything they can to support him," said Peter Smith, a football player. "He's got to be crushed about the whole thing."

Sports boosters club president Barbara Costa, whose son plays football, said: "This seemed to be building all week, so I wasn't surprised by the demonstration considering the emotions involved. You feel sad for the kids to lose someone they feel that way about. ... A lot of kids said they won't play football next year, but I'm sure Sam wouldn't want them to quit."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.