MCDONOUGH, Ga - Some Ola High School students are speaking out to defend their school's controversial reaction to a food fight.
Sophomore Cheyenne Crawford and Junior Calvin Vincent both emailed 11Alive News, insisting that the school had been thrust into an unfair and harsh light after nine students were arrested for their involvement in last Friday's food fight.
"We're getting international attention for something that doesn't represent who Ola is," said Vincent.
School administrators warned students that they would be disciplined and even arrested if they participated in a food fight. Administrators caught wind beforehand that a food fight was possible.
Despite those warnings, the food was flying during Friday's lunch hour.
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Of the nine students arrested, five are charged with adults. All of them are facing misdemeanors.
"I'm outraged," said Devon Graziani, one of the students charged with disruption of a public school. "I've lost all respect for the school."
"I just don't feel the punishment meets the crime," said Graziani's father.
The arrests have drawn the attention of news publications around the world, including a British newspaper. There have been questions and debate over the severity of the punishment.
Cheyenne Crawford and Calvin Vincent point to the warning issued prior to the food fight.
"The students were warned and the administrators did what they said they would do," said Vincent. "They should be applauded."
Cheyenne Crawford was in the cafeteria, and says it was much more than a food fight.
"It quickly turned into a riot," said Crawford. "I know someone who got hit square in the face by an apple. She was bleeding."
A lawyer who has seen security video of the fight denies there was a riot.
"There's not one overturned chair I can see," said attorney E. Gilmore Maxwell. "There's no damage to property. I see fifty, sixty, seventy kids throwing food."
The Henry County school system says 15 students are facing some type of discipline. Some have been suspended for the remainder of the school year.