In an online audio message released Dec. 11 on Hopewell High School's Web site, principal Louise Jones told parents about a spike in fights at the school that appeared to be pre-arranged events of willing participants.
Answering questions through e-mail, she said she knew of at least two staged fights between male students that took place in bathrooms.
Six students have been suspended for either fighting or posting footage of fights on YouTube, an online video sharing Web site. The school has more than 2,500 students.
"A parent gave us a heads up that fights were posted on YouTube," she said in her e-mail. "There was another fight posted on YouTube but it was not a staged fight, but it did allow us to see that more than two students were involved."
The search "hopewell fights" on You Tube turned up a few videos of students (boys and girls) fighting in bathrooms and a locker room, but they have not been linked to the school.
A one-minute video clip posted on You Tube showed hundreds of students - some screaming, some cheering or gasping - surrounding two students who fought for about 30 seconds and exchanged several punches. The video, subtitled "hopewell fight at lunch" ends showing the view of a Hopewell Titans sweatshirt. It has received nearly 500 views since Dec. 3.
Hopewell High is located at 11530 Beatties Ford Road and Titans is the school mascot.
A YouTube user with the name Kidflash56 commented on the fight and directed others to "check out the fights on ma (my) page." That account is closed. Other accounts that appear to be linked to the school through comments made on the one-minute clip also have been closed.
In her online message, the principal warned that anyone who fights, arranges fights or encourages fights will be disciplined. There also will be an increased staff presence in hallways and bathrooms, and she expects students to report any unsafe events.
There haven't been any other issues with staged fights since her online message was posted, Jones said.
"I think we caught the 'staged' fights early and helped kids see how silly and dangerous this type of activity can be," she said. "Most students didn't know about it and most of those who did, thought it was pretty dumb."