A Minnesota high school principal is apologizing for a pep rally prank earlier this month in which blindfolded students were surprised to find they had kissed their parents in front of hundreds of classmates.
Rosemount High School Principal John Wollersheim said the prank had first been done about six years ago and wasn't controversial.
Not this time. A one-minute video of the smooches has gone viral, including posts on Facebook and YouTube, where it's been reposted three times and received 33,000 views by Thursday evening.
In the video, the captains of several winter sports teams were lined up along a wall of the gym opposite another line of students. The captains were blindfolded and told they had to guess which student kissed them.
However, the students were swapped out for the parents of the athletes. Some of the kisses lasted several seconds. In the video, the athletes who were tricked appeared surprised, but not angry.
Wollersheim released a formal apology on Tuesday after receiving about a dozen emails or calls from upset people inside and outside the district.
"This activity was intended to be fun, but some found it offensive," he wrote. "We apologize to anyone who was offended by this activity."
In an interview Thursday with The Associated Press, Wollersheim said the event was organized by the high school staff, but he was accountable.
"As principal, I'm responsible for everything that happens in this school," he said. "This event offended people, and pep fests should have nothing that offends people."
Wollersheim shared four emails he received about the pep fest _ although the names of the senders were removed _ which he said represented the feedback he had received since the pep rally on Dec. 8.
"I think people need to have more of a sense of humor!" wrote one, adding, "Kudos to you for all that you do _ as I do not feel as a parent there was anything offensive about the video."
Others weren't amused. "What can possibly be the justification for ridiculing students and their parents in pseudo sexual manner!" another email said. "What are we telling students if this sort of thing is not only condoned by the administration but blatantly encouraged?"
Wollersheim said he wasn't considering any disciplinary action against the high school employee who came up with the idea. A district spokesman said Superintendent Jane Berenz was not commenting the matter.
Wollersheim noted the video showed only about a minute of the 30-minute assembly, which also included more traditional events like singing the school song and presenting awards. Seen without that context, he said he could understand parents' concern.
"If I was just watching that clip, I wouldn't like what was seeing either," he said.
Wollersheim said he had not received any complaints from the athletes or their parents.
YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?vsNUMWFj31w4