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Black History Month lunch menu sparked classroom laughter: student

EducationSchoolsHistoryArts and CultureAfrican-American History MonthHigh Schools

When an all-girls Christian private school in Northern California this week announced over the public address system that a lunch menu in honor of Black History Month would include watermelon and fried chicken, classrooms erupted in nervous laughter "because they knew it wasn't right," one student said.

The lunch menu at Carondelet High School for Girls in Concord, which made headlines nationwide, sparked widespread criticism after it was announced Monday.

Sophomore Dom Carpenello said that as the announcement came, "most people were laughing, but they were laughing nervously because they knew it wasn't right," according to KTVU-TV.

The school's communications director, Christina Ditzel, said school officials were "absolutely very upset that this happened."

"It never should have because it does not go along with what we teach here and who we are; and it never would have been approved by any of the administration or teachers," Ditzel told the Contra Costa Times.

The principal of the school, Nancy Libby, apologized after the lunch announcement and in a letter to parents said she was sorry for "any hurt this caused students, parents or community members."

"Please know that at no time at Carondelet do we wish to perpetrate racial stereotypes and we indeed work diligently to do just the opposite," Libby added.

Ditzel said the Black Student Union at the nearby De La Salle High School, which includes students from both campuses, were looking for a way to celebrate the month. 

It's unclear how the menu was formed, but in a letter, Libby referenced adults who "made mistakes causing this situation."

Carondelet High School Interim President Sister Ann Bernard said students in the club planned the lunch. 

"They thought this was a very clever way, in their own way, of celebrating Black History Month. It was as simple, and naive as that," Bernard said, according to KTVU-TV.

The menu has since been scrapped, school officials said.

"We are addressing the communication breakdown and using this incident to raise awareness about cultural sensitivity and diversity, so such incidents never again occur in the Carondelet community," Ditzel said in a statement.

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