At the end of her seventh-grade year at Anthony Aguirre Junior High, Lizeth Villanueva sat at the awards ceremony and waited to receive her certificate. She'd been in the honors program at the school outside Houston for two years, keeping her head down, staying out of trouble, getting good grades. Now it was time for some recognition.
"Most likely to become a terrorist," a teacher called out. "Lizeth Villanueva." The teacher—whose name has been withheld by the school—chuckled as she handed the certificate to Villanueva. But the 13-year-old didn't get the joke.
As local NBC affiliate KPRC2 reports, Villanueva received the certificate during a satirical awards ceremony on Tuesday—just a day after the Manchester bombing that killed 22 people and left at least 50 injured. Aside from Villanueva's award, students earned superlatives like "most likely to cry for every little thing" and "most likely to become homeless." To the teachers, it's all in good fun—but Villanueva's mother is furious at those who gave out the award, calling on the middle school to fire them.
"We're really upset about it coming from a teacher," Villanueva's mother, Ena Hernandez, told KPRC2. "It is kind of hard to believe that she's doing that. Being a teacher—giving this to a 13-year-old. How is she going to feel when she grows up later on?"
A school district spokesman apologized for the incident, calling it a "poor attempt to poke fun" and promising that the teachers responsible would be investigated and disciplined.
But that doesn't do much for Villanueva, who still hasn't returned to school because she "feels uncomfortable," as the Washington Post reports.
"A terrorist is a really big thing," Villanueva told KPRC2. "Just what happened two, three days ago with Ariana Grande and her concert, and they're joking around with this? That's not something to joke around with."
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