Highland Park Team Abandons AZ Plans; Schedules Trip to FL

Highland Park's girls' basketball team tries to skirt political controversy

By Aixa Velez
|  Tuesday, Aug 3, 2010  |  Updated 9:42 AM CDT
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The Highland Park High School girls’ basketball team made new plans to travel to Florida instead of Arizona to try and stay far away from political controversy.

The team will travel to Orlando, Fla. during their Christmas break for a basketball tournament.

The school assistant superintendent, Suzan Hebson, recently canceled the girls’ trip to Arizona because of safety concerns.  She said, in part, that the trip "would not be aligned with our beliefs and values."

The trip had been planned for months and was paid for partly by the girls fund raising efforts.

Many believe the cancellation was a strong political move by the school because of the recent immigration law in Arizona, but the basketball players say they just want to stay away from the politics and play ball.

“The thing for us is we all just want to have fun and play in a holiday tournament,” said team member Morgan Bartelstein, a Highland Park High School sophomore, according to the Pioneer Press.

“We're looking forward to getting all of this behind us and just play basketball.”

The canceling of this trip has grabbed national media attention.  Sarah Palin took shots at the school district and Highland Park mayor about their decision.

Mayor Michael D. Belsky joined WLS-AM radio's “Don Wade & Roma Morning Show" Thursday morning to clarify that the Highland Park city government is not involved in District 113 matters, reported the Pioneer Press.

The school’s administration and board has not returned any media calls, but administrators posted a letter online to parents and the community about their decision.

“This decision is not a political statement regarding the state of Arizona's recently enacted legislation regarding immigration,” the letter states.

The change in venue will cost a bit more, so the team plans on doing a few more fundraisers to help with costs.

“There's been an outpouring of people that want to help with the fundraising, so I think the girls are going to be successful,” said Michael Evans, a parent of one of the basketball players.

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