A parent at St Bede's College is disappointed with the way the school has handled a fiery incident involving rowers in Twizel during Maadi Cup week.
About eight students, who were competing in the rowing competition, will spend their holidays doing community service in the small Mackenzie Country town after setting tennis balls and a road on fire last week.
The boys had doused tennis balls in petrol before lighting them and throwing them, school rector Justin Boyle said.
Boyle confirmed that the incident, believed to have taken place on Monday or Tuesday, involved the 15 and 16-year-old students, who were part of a team of about 70 rowers competing from the school.
The students also poured out the letters "SBC" in petrol on Tekapo Dr outside where they were staying and then lit it. The letters stand for "St Bede's Crew". They also poured out the shape of a penis.
The parent, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the students involved had closed ranks and would not disclose who was the ring leader in charge of the incident.
The group had not been stood down from the school but were barred from social events at the end of the week-long rowing event.
They were also ordered to do community service work in Twizel during their school holidays
"It seems to me the school is trying to keep their record of no suspensions for the Ministry of Education. The boys are just seeing the community service as another trip away. It's like they are being rewarded."
A school handbook for guidelines at the event said houseparents should encourage boys to respect the house, property and facilities.
"To date, we have always found that boys do honour this requirement," the handbook read.
Boys were required to hand their cell phones to their house parent no later than 10pm each evening and all boys needed to be in their home by 9pm or before dark each evening.
The parent said accommodation during Maadi cup was notoriously difficult to find and was worried the incident might make it difficult for the school to be able to rent homes in the future.
"It gives the school a bad name."
Boyle has defended the school's manner of disciplining the students.
"[The boys] made apologies to the owners of the house and police and have written letters," he said.
The students stayed on to compete at the cup, but Boyle was happy they had been dealt with appropriately.
The parent who was in charge of the boys was "mortified", he said. The antics could have gone "woefully wrong" if the fires had spread.
"The way rowing runs at St Bede's is that it relies on the goodwill of a lot of good people including parents who the boys know they have all let down."
- The Press
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