School leaders say appeal to like NRA page came from unofficial source

by: PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE - This Facebook invitation from the ForestGrove Vikings page took some Forest Grove High School students by surprise.An invitation to “like” the National Rifle Association’s Oregon Members & Friends page on Facebook, sent to an unknown number of Forest Grove High School students early this month, has called into question what kinds of social media appeals are appropriate and not.

A mysterious someone — probably a FGHS alum, district officials said — administers the ForestGrove Vikings page (no space between "Forest" and "Grove") and posted the invitation Jan. 3. By last Wednesday, Jan. 8, the post had disappeared — but not before several students reacted to its presence on their Facebook timelines.

“It kind of grossed me out,” said freshman Helen Thias. “I feel like a school shouldn’t be pushing political views on its students, especially the NRA.

“Your school shouldn’t be wanting you to ‘like’ a gun-related page.”

Chief of Staff Connie Potter said Friday that Forest Grove School District officials have "no jurisdiction over private pages” on Facebook. She added there is “no official Vikings Facebook page” administered by the high school.

But another page called Forest Grove Vikings does appear to have represented the local high school at one time. This page could easily be confused with the one that extended the NRA invitation because the only difference is a space between "Forest" and "Grove."

Created in December 2009, the page lists the main office number at FGHS in its contact information, as well as an outdated website. The page could be defunct since its last post appeared on Jan. 12, 2012.

The ForestGrove Vikings page is not connected to FGHS, said Assistant Principal Doug Thompson. But a search of links connected to that page shows it had its genesis at Forest Grove High at one time. The page was created in September 2010.

“My understanding is that [the page] has been established for several years,” said Principal Karen Robinson, “but I have no idea who is running it.”

Meanwhile, reactions about the NRA invitation were mixed among students who were either encouraged to “like” the page or who merely saw it on a friend’s Facebook wall.

Jake Evans, a junior at FGHS, said he had not been directly invited to “like” the NRA page. He hypothesized that the page’s administrator had “tried to invite those they thought would be interested” in the gun-rights organization.

“I don’t really think of the NRA [as] politically affiliated, so I didn’t think much of it,” Evans said.

Thias said ForestGrove Vikings had sent a different solicitation — to “like” a pro-life page — to her Facebook account several months back, and that she has also been invited to “like” the Forest Grove School District Facebook page.

That page, established in November 2009, is managed by Potter.

Monica Christopherson, athletic department secretary at Forest Grove High School, said she administers a page called Forest Grove High School Athletic Hall of Fame on Facebook. "It's a mystery to our office" who manages the ForestGrove Vikings page, she said.

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