Hazing News

No criminal charges in Agawam; Details continue to Be withheld by School Superintendent Mary A. Czajkowski

Excerpt from and link to full story

“We feel the school’s action was appropriate and we don’t feel any criminal charges are necessary,” Police Detective Lt. Richard Light added.

In the wake of the hazing incident, which officials have continued to decline to describe, School Superintendent Mary A. Czajkowski placed four of the district’s football coaches on paid leave and suspended four football players for 10 days.

“I’m hopeful as a community and a school system we can move beyond this,” Czajkowski said following the announcement from the district attorney’s office. “Certainly, we have all learned lessons from this.”

The school superintendent said she plans to meet with students and parents involved in the matter as well as with coaches, Dave Stratton, the athletic director Steven Lemanski, the school principal to start the healing process. Czajkowski declined to detail the incident, saying it would not be helpful for the community or the students involved and that it clearly met the definition of hazing under the state statute.

The school superintendent had considered canceling the football team’s traditional Thanksgiving game with rivals West Springfield High School, but decided there would be enough coaches to keep students safe and enough team members left to play the game.

Despite a rousing pep rally at Agawam High School Wednesday, the football team lost to West Springfield High School 20-0.

Czajkowski has said the incident involved seven students as victims and was very clearly hazing though it did not involve physical or mental injuries. She characterized it as “a situation that went beyond towel-whipping.”

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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