Adult dispute in parking lot disrupts Centennial talent show

Adult dispute in parking lot disrupts Centennial talent show

CHAMPAIGN — Skirmishes among adults outside Centennial High School Saturday night apparently brought a premature end to a student talent show going on inside.

Unit 4 spokesman John Lyday said Sunday that to his knowledge, no students were involved in the conflicts.

"There was an altercation in the parking lot as the talent show was going on in the auditorium. It was initiated by adults attending the event. Minor events occurred, and a bystander called police," Lyday said.

Several officers responded about 9 p.m., restored order and left without making any arrests or writing reports about the call, he said. There were no reports of injuries.

News-Gazette Media was unable to reach Cessily Thomas, a Centennial staff member affiliated with the popular annual fund-raiser in which African-American students, both individually and in groups, sing, recite poetry and perform dance routines.

However, in a video on her Facebook page, Thomas expressed her anger, disappointment and frustration at the adults responsible for the interruption.

She noted it prevented some students who had put in long hours of practice and paid for their own costumes from performing.

"I'm not even going to talk about the way the parents (were) acting. At school every day, we wonder why are these kids acting like that? And we just saw. We had kids trying to fight adults, administrators. We had parents trying to fight each other, kids fighting each other.

"Over a dance? For real? So of course, now we have a new rule: no outsiders can participate in any of the things we do," she said.

Thomas said even before whatever happened in the parking lot, there were adults in the audience being loud as a student tried to recite a poem she wrote about oppression.

"More than angry, more than embarrassed, I'm really sad for our students, really hurt our students were just so disrespected," she said.

"Thank you Centennial Students for being amazing! I'm so sorry I allowed people in our space who did not care about you and your talents! I am so sorry that you did not get the opportunity to showcase your talents. I promise I will make it up to you, with the help of some amazing folks who are already trying to make that happen! You all are amazing! You are resilient! You are brilliant! You are worthy of love, attention and affection!" Thomas wrote.

She reported the event raised $3,400 to support student groups at the high school.

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