Students Demand Reinstatement of Beloved Soccer Coach

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsStudents of Kennedy High School rallied Friday evening to demand the reinstatement of beloved soccer coach Keitel Thelemaque, who, according to students and parents, was ‘wrongfully’ let go by Kennedy H.S Principal George Szkapiak last month.

Thelemaque, former head soccer coach of the girls team, allegedly allowed three unauthorized visitors into a school basketball game on January 28th, 2013. The visitors were asked to leave, originally, but were allowed reentry into the building when security presumed the guests were visitors of Thelemaque and failed to identify the visitors as the same individuals who were dismissed from the premises earlier, according to students. The mistake made by security shifted onto Thelemaque, which resulted in his termination.

“Mr. Thelemaque and the girls soccer team are being punished for actions they did not take and the parents, students, and members of the school community will not allow this great teacher and coach be reprimanded because of the carelessness and incompetence of others,” said Elisa Valencia.

Parents, students, and alumni criticized Principal Szkapiak’s action as being ‘overzealous’ and ‘counterproductive’ in his decision to remove Thelemaque as coach. “Mr. Thelemaque is an exceptional teacher, mentor and coach with over twenty years of experience and a rare faculty that truly inspires and empowers students to the best of their abilities,” said Claudia Guzman “He’s the kind of teacher and coach that parents hope for, and these misplaced, brash punitive measures against Mr. Thelemaque are completely unacceptable!”

Now, the future of the girls soccer team is unknown as they are left without their mentor and coach, whom many credit for keeping them off the streets. Students and parents are collectively taking action by reaching out to the Chicago Public School officials as well as hold upcoming rallies to reinstate Thelemaque.

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