Two Beatrice High School students are facing criminal charges after allegedly vandalizing the Hevelone Center last week.
High school principal Jason Sutter said the theatre was vandalized after school on Thursday, and that the two 14 year olds responsible have been found.
“I can’t speak directly to disciplinary actions, but I can tell you our code of conduct has various levels for action and this is one of the higher-level offenses in our code of conduct,” he said. “We won’t tolerate vandalism of the school or school property and so the consequences are pretty severe.”
Beatrice police Lt. Jay Murphy said the two students have been cited for criminal mischief, and they could be facing a felony-level offense, depending on what dollar amount of damage is done.
Murphy said damage including spray paint on the walls, glue and dish soap spread on carpeting and salt and sugar being poured throughout the area.
Two swastikas were painted in the center, which Sutter said were not directed at a particular student.
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“What I would really like to come through is that the students knew what they were doing,” he said. “We don’t know that they necessarily understood the magnitude of the symbol used and the history of some of those symbols in today’s society. It appears more and more things are appearing on social media and through the news. We will continue to educate our students as to the appropriateness or inappropriateness of those kinds of symbols of hate.”
An insurance adjuster visited the school on Monday, and a dollar amount associated with the damage is being determined.
Beatrice Public Schools superintendent Jason Alexander thanked police for their help in identifying the suspects, as well as school custodians who worked to clean the auditorium.
He declined to say what punishment the students would receive, but said they are not currently attending PHS.
"Vandalism of any property is unacceptable and these students knew that,” he said. “What’s more aggravating is the nature of the graffiti. It’s an act we take very serious and an offense of legal and school regulations that there are hefty consequences for.”