A video posted on social media last week which shows Dover High School students singing a song about the Ku Klux Klan to the melody of "Jingle Bells" was the subject of more than two hours of testimony from residents Monday evening.
The hearing was moved to the school's auditorium to accommodate the more than 100 people who attended.
During emotional statements, friends and family members of John Carver - the teacher who was supervising during the incident - spoke to his good standing in the community.
Still others called for his firing, questioning how the song which saw two students singing lyrics that included “let’s kill all the blacks” could have been allowed in the classroom.
“When I initially saw the video, I was offended and I wanted to blame the students, and I think a lot of people did,” said Dover resident Brian Cartier. “And my first question was ‘Why isn’t the teacher doing something?’”
Fred Ross, former president of the Seacoast NAACP and retired teacher, said the school system needed to reflect the mores of the community. “There is a problem here and we’ve got to deal with it,” Ross said.
“When I was subbing here, there were very few minority students in this school system,” Ross added. “I can look around the room and see that that has changed tremendously.”
There were also statements from students on how to move forward.
Miraqle LaPierre, a Dover High student, says she and other classmates have formed a group they call DREAM which advocates for diversity and community.
“It’s a little sad that it took that long for all of us to come together like that, just from one little ‘Jingle Bell’ thing,” Lapierre said. “But I think it’s a good thing that it happened, because now we have a place to go to talk about these things and say how we feel.”
Fellow DREAM member Courtney Dalbeck says she thought a lot of the night’s testimony focused on who was to blame.
“I think for us, it isn’t even about the video, or the kids, or the teacher anymore,” Dalbeck said. “It’s about what it shed light onto.”
Carver is on paid administrative leave while the school district continues to investigate the issue.