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School administrators, student leaders prepare for a ‘positive’ Harvest Bowl

POSTED October 14, 2009 12:12 a.m.
The Harvest Bowl is a chance for the Pitman and Turlock high football teams meet in battle on the field with tackles, interceptions and touchdowns, but with local competition brewing, other problems often come to surface.  
Last year, the Harvest Bowl was an exciting game with Turlock High winning for the first time in five years, but the football game wasn’t the problem. It was the fans that stirred up controversy in the stands.  
A few of the happenings in the stands at last year’s game that prompted parents and community members to complain to school administrators included THS fans holding up signs referencing Pitman High teacher Carl Kubicek and his sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student and fans of both teams crowding the end zones on the field.
In response to last year’s unsportsmanlike fan behavior, the Turlock Unified School District administration came together with administrators from both Turlock and Pitman highs to create a positive fan plan.
“We are expecting there to be no problems this year because we are being pro-active instead of re-active,” said Sonny Da Marto, TUSD superintendent.
This year, there will only be pre-sale tickets available, Da Marto said. There will only be tickets sold for the capacity of Joe Debely Stadium at Turlock High.  No tickets will be sold at the door and people who don’t have a ticket will be turned away.  
The policy of pre-selling tickets for only the amount of seats available was made in hopes of helping with crowd control, said Isaias Rumayor, assistant principal for Turlock High. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students.
Along with the bleachers for the Turlock side and the Pitman side, there will be bleacher seats available at both end zones. The bleachers are being borrowed from the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds and are being used to help fundraise for the Turlock Turf Crew. The end-zone tickets are $20 each and half of the money goes to the Turlock Turf Crew. If no one is interested in the end-zone tickets, there will not be any bleacher seats available at each end-zone.  
Other ways the district plans to control the crowd is through separation of fans. Depending on what team the fans are routing for, Turlock High supporters must enter in from the Colorado Street gate and the Pitman High supporters must enter in from the Berkeley/Marshall Street gate, Da Marto said. There will be a divider between both sides so students from opposite teams do not come into contact. Extra portables have been brought in for each side so, there will be no need to go to the opposite side during the game.  
One of the problems last year, Rumayor said, was teenagers gathering on the south end of the stadium unsupervised. This year, the south end of the stadium will be eliminated as an open space and will be called the dead zone, Rumayor said. Another rule will be children who attend the game must be with an adult when entering the gate.  
The biggest issue the district sees is getting the word out that tickets are only being sold pre-sale, Da Marto said. To get the word out TUSD has placed an advertisement in the Journal, sent home letters with students to parents, announced the pre-sale tickets on their Web site and sent notices to all the schools in the district.    
Each school has been promoting good sportmanship-like behavior and expects to see a better game than last year, Da Marto said.  
As for Turlock High, they have been relaying the expectations of each student and the consequences that follow bad behavior through their leadership students, said Jeffrey Chapman, Turlock Associated Student Body president.
To keep the good sportsmanship between the fans, the students at Turlock High are promoting supporting their school rather than focusing negative attention toward Pitman, Chapman said. The student body is selling different spirit shirts for the students to wear at the game. For the first 300 tickets sold, a yellow Turlock High T-shirt was given to help promote school spirit.  
“This is a big game to show the community that we are good kids,” he said.  “The public got a misconception because of our signs last year, so this year we are going to set a good example.”
There will be no signs pre-made by Turlock High students at the game, Rumayor said. The student body got to pick designs for the posters and the school paid to make the posters on vinyl so all signs will be pre-approved. All signs strictly promote Turlock, Rumayor said.  
Beyond the signs, bad student behavior will have consequences. If students are being inappropriate at the game, they will be asked to leave and if it is serious they will be suspended, Rumayor said. At the game, students will be held to the same code of conduct as they are at school because it is a school sponsored event.  
Inappropriate behavior would consist of unruly behavior, a student not being courteous to others and using profanity, according to Rumayor.
Rumayor also said that parents will be held to the same code of conduct and will be asked to leave if they show inappropriate behavior.   
The rivalry between Turlock and Pitman started with the opening of the newest school in 2002, but over the years it has died down between the students, Rumayor said. The rivalry within the community is a different story.  
“It depends on who you ask within the community regarding the rivalry,” he said.  
In an effort to help settle down the rivalry, Turlock High students participated with Pitman High students in the Turlock Shines community service event earlier this month, Chapman said.  
There was a lunch provided by Westside Ministries for the students of both schools and rumors were that it was a reconciliation lunch for Turlock and Pitman with Pitman being a no show.
The lunch was provided in an effort to thank the volunteers for their hard work, Rumayor said.  
Pitman High Principal Rod Hollars agreed with Rumayor about the reasoning for the lunch.    
“It was heavily attended by Turlock students and there were some Pitman students there,” he said. “The students that weren’t there either didn’t know about the lunch or had a prior commitment.”   
Pitman students finished cleaning up about an hour and a half sooner than expected so they left, said Mazie Ludlow, Pitman Associated Student Body president.  
“The adults try to get us together thinking there is this huge rivalry between us when we all hang out together and get along,” Ludlow said.       
On Pitman’s side of things, there is no bad behavior expected and there has been no extra effort to prevent bad things from the students, Ludlow said.  Good behavior is just expected.    
“I expect the kids to do what they are suppose to do,” Hollars said. “Last thing I want to do is give them a laundry list of things not to do. I trust them.”      
Pitman students are promoting a white-out night for their student body to help support their team, Ludlow said. The Pitman football team got new uniforms that are white jerseys and white pants so to be unified with their team, Pitman students are encouraging supporters to wear white Pit-Crew T-shirts that are on sale for $5.  
On Thursday, they plan on running through campus with the Pitman flag followed by ASB students wearing their white Pit-Crew T-shirts to help promote the white out night on Friday, said Lucas Giron, spirit dude/leader.  They also are encouraging students to bring white towels to the game in support of their team.   
When Pitman is at home, they encourage everyone to wear green to match the team, she said. Since it is an away game they are encouraging everyone to wear white. The white-out campaign was created as a way for everyone to support the team.  
“It is an away game in town,” Giron said. “Wearing white is like wearing green at a home game.”   
As far as the rivalry goes between the two schools, both student body representatives see it as more of a community rivalry than a rivalry between the students.
“The community makes it more of a rivalry than the students,” Giron said. “It is more of a social event for us than a football game.”    
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail mmartens@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015. 
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