Vandals Hit Stadiums at Walter Johnson, Churchill High Schools in Suspected Sports Rivalry

Vandals Hit Stadiums at Walter Johnson, Churchill High Schools in Suspected Sports Rivalry

Series of spray-painting incidents leaves scoreboards, plaques damaged

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Vandals spray painted the pull-down windows at Walter Johnson High School's concession stand.

By Bethany Rodgers

A rivalry between Walter Johnson and Churchill high schools has sparked a series of escalating vandalism incidents that have seriously damaged stadiums at both schools, according to officials.

The overnight spray-painting incidents started last week and have defaced plaques and scoreboards at the sports facilities, Montgomery County Public Schools spokesman Derek Turner said.

On Tuesday, principals at both schools sent students home with letters alerting parents to the ongoing feud.

“This is not typical ‘kids will be kids’ behavior. Each incident has been deliberate and destructive,” wrote Walter Johnson Principal Jennifer Baker and Churchill Principal Joan Benz.

Montgomery County police and Montgomery County Public Schools are investigating to find out who is responsible for the damage, the message continued.

Exterior walls at the Walter Johnson High School stadium in Bethesda were damaged with spray paint. Photo by Bethany Rodgers.

Walter Johnson in Bethesda and Churchill in Potomac have each dealt with two rounds of vandalism. The cost of repairs is still undetermined, he added.

Baker said Walter Johnson staff discovered the first wave of graffiti on Thursday, but more appeared over the weekend, with the damage focused on the concession stand and ticket booth walls. At both Walter Johnson and Churchill, the vandals used school names in their graffiti, she said.

Baker said the spray painting at both schools surprised her.

"At our school, graffiti and writing on the walls are just not part of our culture," she said.

It’s not clear if a particular incident triggered the back-and-forth acts, but Turner said that officials suspect a sports rivalry is involved and that the two schools are facing off in a basketball game at Churchill on Tuesday night.

The principals wrote the culprits could face criminal charges and school sanctions and asked parents to pass along any information they or their children have about the incidents.

Baker said she made a Tuesday morning school announcement urging students to be on good behavior if they planned to attend the basketball game in the evening. A tweet from Churchill athletics also encouraged students to act appropriately.

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