Home football games at one Bucks County high school may look a bit different this season.
Under a new policy, Pennridge High School fans may have to remain in the stands during games.
Socializing on the track that rings Poppy Yoder Field or playing pickup football games would be off-limits.
The Pennridge School District has hired Executive Protection Services, a private security company, to help enforce the measure, which isn’t yet set in stone.
“Anytime you have a crowd as large as we’re going to have at our football games this year, it’s important to have plans and procedures in place to keep things under control for incidents small and large,” said district spokesman Joe Ferry.
No particular incident prompted the procedure, he said.
Games typically attract between 2,000 and 3,000 students.
The plan, part of a notice recently sent out to parents and students, isn’t sitting well with many members of the school community. They argue the measure would diminish Pennridge’s rich high school football tradition.
Some are particularly concerned that community spirit at games will dwindle if the procedure is finalized.
“I enjoy going to the football games and watching football, but I also enjoy going there and hanging out with my friends because it’s a social event,” said Evan Kerr, a Pennridge senior who sits on the school’s student council. “Taking that away will make it so people go other places and hang out on Friday night.”
Duane High, who has watched Ram football games for three decades, called the idea “shocking” and said it sends the wrong message to fans.
“It really puts you on edge as a student, as a fan, that the school doesn’t seem to trust the situation, which is very unusual,” said High.
The procedure was crafted by Pennridge Principal Thomas Creeden in response to the Pennridge School Board’s interest in increased security at football games.
“It was not a board action,” said David Thompson, one of the board’s nine, voting members. Thompson, for his part, doesn’t see much sense in Creeden’s plan.
“The whole thing is just wildly impractical to try and enforce,” said Thompson. “I can’t imagine why Dr. Creeden thought this was believable or even possible.”
Creeden declined comment.
During the team’s first home game Friday, EPS staff joined Perkasie Police at the field, but only to observe and assess the crowd.
The company is expected to make specific recommendations to the district about what crowd-control measures would work well for the team’s remaining four home games.
Community input is also expected to be part of the equation.
“We will continue to evaluate all measures to ensure our fans and visitors can enjoy this wonderful community tradition,” said Ferry.
The Rams’ next home game is Sept. 12 when they take on the Council Rock South team.