Middle school students hoping to catch some of the action of a high school football game at Rock Bridge High School will now have to be accompanied by an adult.
The school is adopting a new rule to tighten security at football games after a juvenile was arrested on suspicion of brandishing a handgun during a fight at a football jamboree at Hickman High School on Aug. 22. The scuffle drew around 300 people.
"We want to be smart about supervision, but we don't want to overreact at the same time," Rock Bridge Principal Kathy Ritter said. "After Friday's incident, we decided to look at security at both (Hickman and Rock Bridge) to decide reasonable things to help us monitor what goes on at games."
In addition to the new rule, all students attending football games will be required to show student IDs before entering the stadium.
There will also be five off-duty police officers to supervise security at football games in case crowds become unruly, Ritter said. In the past, there have rarely been security problems at football games, Ritter said. These problems mostly involved officers removing adults attending games while under the influence drugs or alcohol, she said.
To some Rock Bridge students, the new measures are hardly reasonable.
"They're pretty much punishing us for what happened at Hickman," Rock Bridge senior Tyler Todd said. "I don't mind if there are more police officers there, but I feel like the new rules just ruin the whole environment." Under the new rule, Todd will have to show his ID when entering.
Rock Bridge students were notified of the new rules via bulletins, which are read daily in the school. Student ID cards are being distributed this week, and students who do not have the cards by Friday's game are being asked to bring a printout of their schedule.
"I don't really feel like it affects us that much as it affects the junior high students," Rachel Rutter, another Rock Bridge senior, said. "It's not that big of a difference to just flash your ID. "
"There used to be a lot of little kids running around and causing trouble," fellow student Kyle Pikop added. "The atmosphere will be better because everybody that's there will be there to enjoy the game."
On Monday, Ritter met with Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education Wanda Brown to determine the measures, which have been in effect at Hickman for four or five years. Because of the more compact structure of the stadium at Hickman, game attendees are also required to move to their seats upon entry and are not permitted to loiter, Brown said. Hickman will also hire additional off-duty police officers as security at games.
"These are not really new things," Brown said. "We are just making sure that they take place."
Brown also said the measure requiring all 8th-grade-and-under students be accompanied by an adult was adopted because middle school students tend to loiter more at games than their high school counterparts.
"For the most part, our high school students are coming in, sitting down, and cheering on the team. While the younger students, it's more social for them, and we are just making sure we have a handle on them," Brown said.
The new measures will be in effect at the football game this Friday, when Rock Bridge plays Lee's Summit North High School.