S.C. school district apologizes for message sent at character-building event

S.C. school district apologizes for message sent at character-building event
The event took place Tuesday at Pickens Elementary School for third through fifth graders. It was called Boys Ignite Summit and Girls Shine Retreat.

PICKENS COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC/WYFF) - The School District of Pickens County is apologizing after concerns were raised about the message sent at a character-building event.

The event took place Tuesday at Pickens Elementary School for third through fifth graders. It was called Boys Ignite Summit and Girls Shine Retreat.

"In this case we had an event that was designed to teach children about character value and leadership values," John Eby, communications director for the School District of Pickens County, said.

A Facebook post by the district explained that boys learned about leadership from male role models, while girls learned from a cheer team about how to work together and help everyone shine.

The district said the post was later edited to correctly say both the boys and girls learned about leadership and character.

Pictures taken by the district show boys wore business casual attire while the girls wore matching T-shirts.

"The concern that came back to us was that there were some marked differences between those two events and that some of those differences may have reinforced some gender stereotypes," said Eby.

Mariah Magagnotti is a parent of a 6-year-old girl in the School District of Pickens County that raised concerns. She's also an industrial engineering lecturer at Clemson University.

"I have taught the university level five years now," said Magagnotti.

She said the events perceived messages brought concerns that she sees impact her students.

"Woman with high grades who will say they're going to leave engineering because they don't think they belong there or that they can't see a future for someone who is them,” Magagnotti said. “They can't see a future where they get to be an engineer and a wife or an engineer and a mom."

The district shared what it said is their true goal for students.

"Any girl in our district can grow up to be what she wants to be and any boy can grow up to be what he wants to be," Eby said.

The district said it is reviewing what went wrong and what went right, and is looking to better in the future.

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