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By Grace Carr
A teacher awarded seventh-grader Lizeth Villanueva a “most likely to become a terrorist” award at a mock end-of-the-year awards ceremony in Texas Tuesday.
The award was meant as a joke, part of a tradition at Anthony Aguirre Junior High in Channelview, where teachers hand certificates to students, reported The Washington Post. Thirteen year-old Lizeth said her teacher “just laughed” when she signed and handed her the certificate only one day after the Manchester terrorist attack. Lizeth has been in her school’s academic honors program for two years and has never had discipline issues, displayed violent behavior, or expressed disturbing ideas.
Lizeth’s mother, Ena Hernandez, didn’t find the award one bit humorous.
“I was upset and very mad when I saw the award,” Hernandez told The Washington Post. “I was surprised because my daughter has been doing well in the honors program.”
Lizeth, a Salvadoran American, was also shocked and upset. She said two honors classes were brought together for the ceremony. Other awards included “most likely to cry for every little thing” and “most likely to become homeless.”
Channelview Independent School District spokesman Mark Kramer told KPRC the awards were a “poor attempt to poke fun” and it “wasn’t well thought out.”
Principal Eric Lathan also personally apologized during a school meeting. Lizeth’s mother told local CBS station KHOU that the principal apologized in person as well. She also said she hopes the teacher faces discipline or “get[s] fired at least.”
The school district released a statement saying they “would like to apologize for the insensitive and offensive fake mock awards” and that they “assure all students, parents and community members that these award statements and ideals are not representative of the district’s vision.”