ANDOVER — Two students at Andover High School who were involved in a fight Wednesday morning are facing disciplinary action, as are students who were present at the time of the fight and interfered with first responders, school officials said.

The situation escalated into a walkout by some students who left the school on Thursday without permission and now also face possible disciplinary action, officials said. The situation also involves students painting an unapproved message on a large rock outside the school, officials said.

In a letter to parents and guardians, Principal Philip Conrad said that on Wednesday afternoon, a group of students approached him requesting to paint on the large rock in front of the high school. Conrad said "the rock,” as it known in the school community, is on school property and the administration has always welcomed students creating positive messages for people to see as they enter the building.

"I asked for the students to wait until we were able to meet and hold a collaborative conversation," Conrad said. "They disregarded my offer and painted the rock without permission."

Although Conrad did not describe what was painted on the rock or why, a parent told The Eagle-Tribune that a message painted on the rock expressed support for one of the students involved in the fight.

In his letter, Conrad said that on Thursday morning, some students walked out of class. He did not explain the reason behind the walkout.

"This walkout had not been communicated to us in any way and therefore cannot be classified as a student demonstration that had been mutually agreed upon," Conrad said. "Therefore, any student who left class and/or the school may be subject to discipline as classified in the AHS handbook. All student information and discipline is considered private, and I am not able to comment further."

Conrad went on to say, "Anyone painting on the rock needs the permission of the administration prior to doing so. It is always my hope that civic engagement can be done in a cooperative manner to ensure the safety of all involved. I want to thank the staff and faculty for their assistance over the past few days. Also, the students who displayed good judgement and remain focused on having an open dialogue. AHS is a large, diverse community, and our goal is always to unify our school."

According to a spokeswoman for the district, School Superintendent Sheldon Berman plans to issue a follow-up press release sometime Thursday afternoon.

Watch eagletribune.com for developments in this story. A followup report will appear in Friday's print edition of The Eagle-Tribune and at eagletribune.com.

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