Statement from Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, Jr. following the Sept. 28 football game

In light of the events at Thursday evening’s football game and some of the commentary that followed, Niskayuna Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, Jr., is issuing the following statement in support of all Niskayuna students:

The longstanding values of the Niskayuna Central School District include civility, respect, community, open dialogue and, above all, supporting our students and their education. At Thursday evening’s football game, some of our student-athletes chose to kneel during the National Anthem as the rest of the football team locked arms. As a school community, we support all of our students and their right to express themselves in a peaceful and civil manner. We respect that there are diverse perspectives in our nation, community, and student body on the issues that have been debated across the country in recent days. It must be clear to all that the students who chose to kneel broke no school rule and will not be penalized in any way. Further, we reject intolerance and incivility in all instances – and even more so when it is directed toward our students, as has happened in the hours after the game. We cannot control the content or tone of the national conversation, but how that takes place in Niskayuna is up to all of us.

As an educational institution, it is our responsibility to provide a venue for students to learn about, debate, and understand current events. We are proud of them when they express their views in a peaceful manner. High School Principal John Rickert and Football Coach Brian Grastorf talked to the team in the days leading up to the game and encouraged them to think through their beliefs before acting one way or another. Mr. Rickert and Mr. Grastorf have our support for how they handled this situation. The unity the team displayed on Thursday evening serves as an example for us all.

Niskayuna students demonstrate compassion, civic responsibility and respect daily. We will continue to encourage a thoughtful exchange of diverse viewpoints in our school community.