Threat of violence at H-F ‘unsubstantiated,’ high school officials say

After days of speculation, Homewood-Flossmoor High School administrators Thursday informed senior Taiylar Ball that she will be able to walk the stage at Sunday’s graduation ceremony.  

Ball was denied entry to prom last weekend after she used the N-word in a poem during the May 19 senior talent show. Her poem titled “Dear Black Girls” referenced stereotypes attributed to black women and the empowerment of black girls.

Ball said she met earlier in the day with Principal Ryan Pitcock and Superintendent Von Mansfield to discuss the decision regarding graduation.

“I told them I had a gut feeling about my poem but I didn’t have malicious intent and it wasn’t premeditated,” Ball said.

She then received the news that she would be able to graduate with her classmates. Ball says she felt a sense of relief but took the meeting as an opportunity to express her concerns.

Dionne Gamble, H-F senior, said she was very happy after receiving the news that Ball would be allowed to participate in one of her last high school memories.

“She’s a wonderful person, and I’m glad the administration came to their senses,” Gamble said. “She definitely empowered people through her spoken word.”

Ball said she was surprised at how much support she received from the community and on social media.

“I’m blessed and the amount of support made me very happy but in the end, it’s not about me,” she said. “Knowing there were people who truly knew my character was heartwarming.”

Ball explained she learned a lot in the last week and it’s an experience that she won’t forget. She said she hopes the next senior class coming in learned from her experience as well.

“Just make sure to be respectful. There are rules that you have to follow,” she said. “There is a standard that H-F has and make sure you follow that standard.”

Ball said she is thankful that she and the H-F administration came to an agreement but stressed more work has to be done.

“People were empowered by the poem so I still have a job to do. It was always bigger than me,” Ball said. 

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