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District apologizes for high school students' mock slave auction

By Ben Hooper Contact the Author   |   Feb. 29, 2016 at 12:31 PM

ITASCA, Ill., Feb. 29 (UPI) -- An Illinois school district apologized after a group of high school students held a mock slave auction as part of a convention studying ancient Greece and Rome.

The Barrington School District apologized after Barrington High School students attending the Illinois Junior Classical League Convention at the Westin hotel in Itasca held a mock slave auction featuring a student in chains being sold.

The mock auction was part of a competition to display knowledge of ancient Greek and Roman cultures.

The demonstration elicited numerous complaints from parents and students in the audience. Witnesses, many of whom described the display as racially insensitive, said children as young as 13 were in attendance at the time.

The Barrington School District's Facebook post reads:

"The Barrington School District offers sincere apologies to those offended by a skit our high school Latin students conducted at the Illinois Junior Classical Convention in Itasca this weekend. Their depiction of slavery as it was practiced by ancient Greeks and Romans unintentionally but understandably evoked strong emotions among a diverse audience. We agree with the concern and are reviewing the incident with students and staff who were involved."

The district said not all of the Barrington students participated in the mock auction.

"The school district would like to clarify the skit in question involved a small number of students from the Barrington High School delegation. They were among dozens more BHS students, staff and parents who also made a meaningful contribution to the conference in spite of this brief episode."

The Illinois Junior Classical League's website states its purpose "is to encourage an interest in and an appreciation of the language, literature, and culture of ancient Greece and Rome and to impart an understanding of the debt of our own culture to that of Classical antiquity."

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