Sunday, March 29, 2009 School Officials Battle Vampire Rumors

From the Boston Globe for March 26th, 2009:
Boston Latin officials seek to quash 'vampire' rumors

By Martin Finucane and Maria Cramer, Globe Staff

A school administrator wants to set the record straight: There are no vampires at Boston Latin.

The headmaster of the prestigious exam school took the unusual step today of sending a notice to faculty, students, and parents saying that "rumors involving 'vampires'" had begun spreading through the building Wednesday, causing disruption and anxiety for a number of students.

Lynne Mooney Teta asked everyone's help in calming the school community down.

"I seek your cooperation in redirecting your energy toward the learning objectives of the day. Please do not sensationalize or discuss these rumors," she said.

She also said she was concerned that some students' safety might be jeopardized because of the rumors, and asked students to report if any student is being harassed.

"At no time was anyone's safety in jeopardy," she said.

A law enforcement official with knowledge of the case said a group of girls at the school had been bullying at least one other student who likes to dress in the style known as "Goth."

The official said the girls began spreading a rumor that the student was a would-be vampire, who had cut someone's neck and sucked the person's blood.

When Boston police went to the school Wednesday for an unrelated matter, that only fueled the rumor as students began speculating that the so-called "vampire" was being arrested.

The headmaster's notice, which was addressed to faculty and students and forwarded to parents, did not say exactly what the rumors were. Teta's office referred questions to a Boston schools spokesman.

Chris Horan, a spokesman for the Boston Public Schools, would not confirm reports of bullying.

"My understanding is [Teta] got reports that the teenage rumor mill ... was getting out of hand and she wanted to help the teachers and students and families put an end to it and get back to the business of teaching and learning," Horan said.

Officer Eddy Chrispin, a Boston police spokesman, said police went to the school Wednesday after hearing that some students were spreading rumors.

"We did go over there and speak to some of the students and quelled the rumors that were going and kind of told them the effect those rumors could have on the rest of the student population," he said.

Teen interest in vampires has surged in recent months with the release of "Twilight,'' the first movie from a popular Stephenie Meyer book series. Last weekend, "Twilight'' sleepover parties were held in many US cities coinciding with the DVD release of the movie, starring teen heartthrob Robert Pattinson.

The prestigious Boston Latin public school was founded in 1635, and its students have included Ben Franklin, Sam Adams, John Hancock, Louis Farrakhan, Sumner Redstone, and Nat Hentoff.

Megan Woolhouse of the Globe staff contributed to this report.