Once it went viral, it was hard to avoid seeing the prom photo showing a large group of Baraboo (Wis.) High School students seemingly giving a Nazi salute. Soon after Baraboo's varsity softball coach saw it, she took a stand and resigned.
The photo depicts dozens of boys assembled on steps for a group photo before Baraboo's prom this past spring. A majority of the boys pictured can be seen giving the salute, reportedly at the prompting of the photographer.
“The gestures captured in that photo were stomach-turning,” Bonnie Brandreth told the Baraboo News Republic. “It was a hostile, intimidating act. With the power of social media, individuals can make a single, snap decision that can have a profoundly negative effect on their family, their school, employer, classmates and co-workers, communities, even the entire nation. That prom photo had a profound, negative effect on me. I resigned the day after I saw it."
Brandreth works as a data analytics consultant at Tetra Tech, a mechanical engineering company based in nearby Madison.
“As a business leader, I owe it to my co-workers and clients to avoid employment or outside interests that may create, or give the appearance of creating, a conflict with my responsibilities for maintaining an inclusive and safe work environment. Personal ethics are different for each person, but it was clear to me that I could not maintain my position at Baraboo High School without damaging my own reputation or inadvertently signaling indifference towards an act I found repulsive.”
Brandreth has also served as a coach in Baraboo's traveling youth softball program. It is unclear whether she intends to continue in that capacity. In the meantime, she told the News Republic, "I wish nothing but success for the Baraboo softball program."