West Boca Girl Fight and Phony Outrage

Image from the fight in South County Park

Last week we shared a Facebook video of a fight in South County Regional Park. The video had been posted by Shakeel Munshi and a reader tagged us in a comment.
The video shows his daughter being hit by two or three other girls while several other kids watch. Mr. Munshi’s post claims that she “was getting bullied … because she was Muslim.” In his original post (before he edited it) he also claimed that it happened at West Boca High School, that his daughter was wearing an anti-bullying t-shirt, and that she did not fight back.
Mr. Munshi’s Facebook video now has over 2.7 million views. It went viral because of his lies and that led to a surge of phony outrage from around the world. We received numerous comments, negative reviews, threats, etc. from just about everywhere. The City of Boca Raton and their police department were wrongly targeted by this mob, even though the incident happened outside city lines and had nothing to do with them. The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office and the school district were also besieged by the mob.
The father’s lies contributed to all of this. First of all as we learned from numerous sources and now confirmed by the Sheriff’s investigation, this had nothing to do with religion. The Sheriff’s office sent out an update this morning:

PBSO deputy met with West Boca Raton High School officials and confirmed the identity of all the suspects involved. The suspects and their families have been interviewed. All participants agreed the fight was over “a boy” and “a video that was circulated”. All parties AGREED to meet and to fight and a specific location and time. PBSO Deputy is preparing paperwork to charge the suspects involved with Simple Battery. Once complete, the investigation will be submitted to the state attorney’s office. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF A HATE CRIME.

It should be noted that generally the police and schools are required to protect the privacy of minors. We do not expect that they will publicize the kids’ names, the specific charges filed against them, nor the results of any court proceedings or school discipline. It is also unclear whether the “victim” will also be charged since the evidence indicates she agreed to meet and fight and there is video evidence of her fighting.
Among other lies, the father’s claim that she was wearing an anti-bullying t-shirt was obviously false. In the video you can easily see that she’s wearing a Bulls Football t-shirt. The West Boca High football team is known as The Bulls.

Munshi wearing a Bulls Football t-shirt

He has since edited his post to remove that claim.
He continues to maintain in his post that his daughter did not raise a hand to fight back: “She didn’t picked up a hand because don’t want to fight back.”
This is also a lie as demonstrated in a video showing a different angle of the fight:

If you look at Munshi’s video post again, you can see that the video was edited. It starts after the beginning of the above video so you don’t see her fighting back. And it also leaves out a portion between when his daughter is on the ground and gets back up. We still do not have a full video of this incident so we don’t know what really happened – and neither does the horde of trolls, social justice warriors, etc.
Another lie was the original claim that it happened at West Boca High. Anyone familiar with the school would recognize from the video that it was not on school grounds. We are told this happened in nearby South County Regional Park but we still haven’t gotten a straight answer as to where this was in the park. And his claim that all girls were from West Boca High appears to be inaccurate as at least one of the other girls is reportedly a student at Olympic Heights High School.
Mr. Munshi even misled us about his own location, offering to meet with us at his home in West Boca. But from an NBC Miami report he wasn’t even in the country at the time.
We have published a number of teen fight videos over the past few years. None of them got this much attention, but none of them made phony claims of racism or religious bias.
Some of our sources indicate that Ms. Munshi was bullying one or more of the other girls in the video. At the same time we have another source that tells us one of those other girls has a history of misconduct. Again, we don’t know what the truth is. And neither does the unruly online mob.
One key ingredient to the video’s virality is the depiction of Ms. Munshi as a completely innocent victim. Any suggestion that she was at all responsible for anything that happened, regardless of its truth, was met by a rage from the online mob.
The simple reality of this incident is that it wasn’t much different from the other fight videos we’ve shown. It does not appear that Ms. Munshi was seriously injured. There was no report that she was taken to a hospital or even that she needed to see a doctor. The “simple battery” charge mentioned by the Sheriff means no serious injuries. Had there been serious injuries the charge would have been aggravated battery.
One big difference noted by many is that three girls were hitting Ms. Munshi, rather than it being a one-on-one fight. Everyone agrees that this was wrong. Everyone agrees that the fight itself was wrong. But any questions raised about Mr. Munshi’s lies or the “innocent victim’s” role led to false claims that the questioner supported violence. This is, of course, nonsense. It is a common ploy for political partisans of all stripes to use (or manufacture) an innocent victim in order to support whatever agenda fits their goals.
What’s particularly disturbing to us is how this incident has painted West Boca High kids as racist or prejudiced. We know a lot of kids in West Boca including the area high schools and younger kids. It is our general experience that they are almost entirely unbiased when it comes to race, religion, LGBTQ issues, etc., and certainly less biased than many adults in the community, in the country, and around the world.
The biggest social issue they confront is the stark contrast between rich and poor that one sees in Boca Raton, with some kids living in multi-million dollar mansions in gated communities while others live in trailer parks. The kids seem to handle that well too. There’s also the gifted vs. non-gifted classification in the elementary and middle schools, which translates into Honors and AP classes for the gifted kids and regular classes for the non-gifted. Again in our experience the kids handle this pretty well.
It should be noted that some in the online mob asserted that West Boca News was biased in some way, in particular biased in favor of the Sheriff or the school district. Anyone who actually follows us knows that we have had significant disagreements with both over the past several years.
Our two most popular videos on the West Boca News YouTube channel are of confrontations with PBSO:


We have also been publicly critical of the school district, especially Superintendent Avossa.

Marquee Theater Company presents Dreamgirls at West Boca Performing Arts Center


Written by Jacqueline Faustin, a senior at West Boca High, and a member of the school’s musical theater troupe.
Marquee Theater Company proudly opened their latest performance, Dreamgirls, at the West Boca Performing Arts Theater (in West Boca High School) this past Saturday, January 21, 2017. Director Andrew Shultz and choreographer Ben Solmor did a noteworthy job accurately and respectably chronicling this captivating tale.
Dreamgirls depicts the story of three women who all search for happiness and success in the music industry. With the help of their manager, they get the chance of a lifetime performing as backup singers for a national star. As they delve deeper into the twisted music industry, they abruptly learn just how high the cost of fame truly is.
The up-and-coming Marquee Theater Company is fortunate enough to have an across-the-board strong cast for this show. Their authentic energy, palpable throughout the entirety of the show, never faltered. This unique attribute was most definitely thanks to Alex Lugo (Deena), David Berry (Jimmy Early), and Kendra Williams (Effie). All mentioned characters exhibited remarkable stage presence that made a lasting impact on the audience.

Dreamgirls is on for two more shows at West Boca High – Friday, January 28th at 8 pm and Saturday, January 29th at 2 pm. Buy tickets online at the Marquee box office.

Alex Lugo truly is meant for the stage. Her presence alone creates an appealing and captivating ambiance; the audience can’t help but admire her as she effortless sings and gracefully acts. She has the inimitable talent to truly bring out empathy from the audience, making them really feel for her character.
David Berry presented a hilariously eccentric, yet charming charisma with his role as “Jimmy Early”. He kept his energy level high throughout the duration of the show, and this could be seen specifically in his number, “The Rap.” His character indubitably created a comedic relief for the show.
Kendra Williams stole the show with her performance as “Effie.” Williams, whom has been previously seen as Joanne in Rent, has an unequivocal aptitude for the theater arts. She portrayed her character with such emotional depth and authenticity that it is hard to believe that she, herself, is not Effie. Her show-stopping performance of “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going,” the closing of Act I, had the entire audience on their feet with profuse applause before she was even finished belting her last note.
The ensemble importantly added magnetism to the show. Though some characters lacked believability, overall, they truly enhanced the large group numbers. Harmonies were beautiful when they were not too soft to hear. Their costumes and wigs added to the credibility to the show without drawing too much attention from the characters themselves.
Dreamgirls is a show that you do not want to miss out on. Its entrancing storyline was notably told through a cast full of impressive “Dreams.” Marquee Theater Company may be up-and-coming, but it definitely is not one you should look past.

West Boca High Takes "Blood Brothers" to Tampa

All photos credit G. Richard Booth
All photos credit G. Richard Booth

The West Boca High Drama Department’s “Blood Brothers” musical has been selected for the Florida State Thespian Festival in March. Out of all the schools in the state, only nine shows were selected for “main stage” performances. The Blood Brothers performance will be one of the two shows performed in the Carol Morsani Hall venue, which seats over 2600.
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We are so proud to announce that Blood Brothers has been selected to perform at the Florida State Thespian Festival in March in Morsani Hall at the Straz Center. Congratulations to Mr. Blank, Mrs. Crout and the cast, crew, and staff for all of your hard work.

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Don’t worry if you missed it. The school plans to do another run of performances in February.
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Review: Marquee Theater's Fiddler on the Roof

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We had the pleasure of seeing Fiddler on the Roof performed by the Marquee Theater Company. The professional show ran through October 16th at West Boca High’s theater. We caught it on the 15th.
They did a great job both in filling the house and in delivering their performance. The audience loved it.
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We saw lots of energy on the stage. The dream scene was particularly well done.
Tevye (Peter Librach) and Golde (Joanne Shultz) had outstanding chemistry. Erica Rose Dade glowed as Tzeitel.
Andrew Shultz and Ben Solmor yet again delivered quality theater to our local audience.
If I have a quibble, it’s Librach’s rendition of “If I Were a Rich Man”. I thought it was quirky but judging by the audience response I might be alone in that.
We hope our readers will forgive this late review. We saw one of the last performances of Fiddler on the Roof in October and any review would have been after the last performance.
We look forward to their upcoming performance of Dreamgirls, scheduled to start January 21st.
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Tickets are available at the Marquee Theater box office.

Gary Pierre Arrested for "Sto" Maccius Murder

Previous mugshots of Gary (Garry) Pierre from Palm Beach and Broward.
Previous mugshots of Gary (Garry) Pierre from Palm Beach and Broward.

The Palm Beach Sheriff announced today that they have arrested Gary Pierre (aka Garry Pierre) for the murder of Christo “Sto” Maccius.
We previously reported that Maccius, a West Boca High teacher and alumnus, was shot and killed in Sandalfoot Square.
Pierre has a lengthy criminal history in both Palm Beach and Broward including three felony arrests in Palm Beach. In 2012 he was arrested for robbery with a weapon. That charge was dropped by prosecutors. In 2007 and 2009 he faced felony drug charges. Broward courts show multiple drug felonies along with a grand theft charge. Those are just the felonies. He has also had several misdemeanor cases, criminal traffic cases and traffic violations.
The most recent address we see for Pierre is in Coral Springs. We have seen other addresses for him in North Broward as well as in Sandalfoot Cove near Boca Dunes.

West Boca High Teacher Shot and Killed – Christo Maccius

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Multiple sources and our own research tell us that the shooting victim from this morning was Christo Maccius (25), a West Boca High graduate. Three sources told us that he worked at the school, with one providing more detail:

He was a substitute and shadow for children with special needs.

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The shooting happened in or near the Sandalfoot Square plaza and O’Connor’s Pub. The Palm Beach Post has ongoing updates on the story, including resident concerns about high crime and a report that the shooter had a long-standing grudge against Maccius.
Last year we reported on another shooting at or near the same location.

All photos are from Facebook messages, comments, or pages.

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From what we can see on Facebook and other sources Maccius had many friends in the community, and will be missed.
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We reached out to both PBSO and the school for more information but so far have not received any response. As of this moment we believe the shooter has not been caught. We do not have any identity yet either.
Warning: The photo below may be disturbing to some readers. Do not scroll down if you are sensitive to such things.
And please note that many of the negative comments posted on this article (below) appear to be “trolling.” Some have been deleted and/or blocked from future comments.









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West Boca Rocks the Cappies

West Boca High celebrates the Cappies evening
West Boca High celebrates the Cappies evening

Boca High and West Boca High both did well at the South Florida Cappies Gala on Tuesday evening at the Broward Center. The Cappies is an awards program for high school theatre and theatre journalism. The South Florida chapter includes 28 high schools, mostly in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
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For the biggest awards of the evening, Boca High won the Musical award and Trevor Wayne won Lead Actor for their performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, while West Boca High’s Alexia Assuncao won for Lead Actress in a Musical from their show, Chicago.
Alexia Assuncao (front)
Alexia Assuncao (front)

Other local award winners included:

  • Kayla Goldfarb, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Lead Critic
  • “Brothers”, Boca High, Ensemble in a Musical
  • Lee Alhanti, Marjory Stoneman, Creativity (Shrek)
  • Bridget Foley, Marjory Stoneman, Comic Actress in a Musical
  • Adams, Posner, Chapman and Guin, Boca High, Lighting
  • Kanterman, Morelli, Stricker and Crew, West Boca, Stage Management and Stage Crew
  • Samuel Cadieux, West Boca, Male Dancer
  • John Barnitt, Marjory Stoneman, Featured Actor in a Musical
  • Ryan Lim from West Boca for Male Vocalist

Ryan Lim
Ryan Lim

We previously wrote about the two Boca schools splitting 29 nominations.
Schools in the greater Boca area that participate include Boca High, Deerfield Beach High, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High (Parkland), North Broward Prep (Coconut Creek), Saint John Paul II High (on Military Trail near Lynn University), and West Boca High.
West Boca High celebrated their evening:

Let's Hear it for Footloose!

footloose1The Marquee Theater Company closed out their 2015-16 season yesterday with Footloose, the Musical. We really enjoyed the show. The musical, based on the movie, featured hit songs such as “Holding Out for a Hero,” “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” and “I’m Free/Heaven Help Me.” There were also new tunes including standouts  “I Can’t Stand Still” and “Somebody’s Eyes.”
Footloose is the story of Ren McCormack, a teenage boy who moves with his mother to the small town of Bomont. They are forced to leave Chicago after his Dad leaves them and move in with his Aunt and Uncle. Ren has a hard time adjusting especially when he finds out Reverend Shaw has convinced the town to outlaw dancing. Ariel, the Reverend’s daughter, is dealing with her own family tragedy. She and Willard help Ren in his attempts to change the law so the high school kids can have a school dance.
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Ariel played by Emily Tarallo and Ren played by James Giordano had great chemistry, particularly on their number “Almost Paradise.” We especially enjoyed Emily’s voice on “Holding Our for a Hero” and look forward to hearing her in future productions. The entire cast and crew, including 5 students from West Boca High’s Drama Department, did a great job. The dance numbers were a lot of fun and the music was upbeat.
The Marquee Theater Company has announced their 2016-17 season: Fiddler on the Roof (September 30-October 9), Dreamgirls (January 21-29) and Legally Blonde (May 6-14). To find out more about the Company, go to marqueetheatercompany.com.

West Boca High and Boca High Musicals Split 29 "Cappies" Nominations

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The West Boca High and Boca High Drama Departments racked up a total of 29 nominations for the South Florida Cappies.

The Cappies, “Critics and Awards Program,” is a program through which high school theatre and journalism students are trained as critics, attend shows at other schools, write reviews, and publish those reviews in local newspapers …

The South Florida chapter includes schools in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Nominations for West Boca High’s performance of Chicago included:

    • Hair and Makeup – Cristina Cautero, Amanda Helbling, Victoria Martin, Missy Varela
    • Costumes – Jewelia Carter, Elizabeth Yarris, and Crew
    • Sets – Ryan Hartman, Cristina Rodriguez, George Said, and Crew
    • Stage Management and Crew – Heather Goughan, Mathew Kanterman, Nick Morelli, Kayla Stricker
    • Male Dance Ensemble

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    • Featured Actress in a Musical – Sammi Frankenbush
    • Female Dancer – Carolyn Castillo

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  • Male Dance – Sam Cadieux
  • Male Vocalist – Ryan Lim
  • Comedic Actor – Matthew Madden
  • Supporting Actress – Hillary Corniel
  • Lead Actress – Alexia Assuncao
  • Best Song – Both Reach For The Gun
  • Best Musical

The troupe is also coming off an outstanding performance at the state Thespian Festival last month.
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Boca High also did well with 15 nominations for their performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
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  • Marketing – Matez and Crew
  • Special Effects – Stewart, Ballarte, Piccin and Crew
  • Sound – Kachur, Lubin, Benedict
  • Props
  • Lighting – Adams, Posner, Chapman and Guin
  • Costumes – Hunsucker, Narino, Schmidt and Crew
  • Stage Management – Hunsucker and Crew
  • Ensemble in a Musical – Brothers
  • Featured Actor – Matthew Moore
  • Female Dancer – Allegra Mannarino
  • Female Vocalist – Channing Ramsey
  • Supporting Actor – Alec Taylor
  • Lead Actor – Trevor Wayne
  • Song – Those Canaan Days
  • Best Musical

Seniors from the Boca High production
Seniors from the Boca High production

Both schools are in the running for Best Musical, along with South Plantation High School, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and NSU University School, all in Broward. To see the full slate, click – 2016 South Florida Cappies Nominations.
In 2015 Boca High won 5 Cappies for The Drowsy Chaperone and West Boca High won 3 for The Addams Family. West Boca High won Best Musical in 2014 with Young Frankenstein.

West Boca High Mourns Teacher's Passing

Update: The time of the service has been changed to 11 am.
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This afternoon we learned that Diane Donney, a teacher in the ESE (Exceptional Student Education) department at West Boca High, passed away. It appears to have occurred suddenly, though we do not have details as to how she passed.
We will update if and when we learn more about what happened. We reached out to the school and school district and received this early response from Principal Sommer:

It is with great sadness and regret to inform you that one of our truly beloved teachers Ms. Donney, recently passed away. There will be a service at St. John’s Church in Boca Raton (on Yamato Road) this Saturday at 10am 11 am. Grief counselors will be in the Guidance office first thing in the morning for those that need additional support.
More details will follow as they are received, and please do not hesitate to contact me with questions.

Her Facebook page is lighting up with posts from fellow teachers, former students, friends and family.
From Candi Chuburu:

My heart breaks from hearing of the passing of one of the greatest teachers I have ever had, Diane Lamperti Donney. She made the world so much brighter and changed every student’s life she came in contact with. Thank you for believing in us and for making such a positive impact on the world. We will continue to Pay It Forward and make you proud! You will be truly missed – Rest in Peace Mrs. Donney heart emoticon

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‎Anthony Brignola‎ wrote:

You are loved and missed by all. Thank you for asking me to speak to your senior class. You were such an amazing person. The world would be a better place if it was filled with people like you. Watch over me and please keep supporting me like you have been for all these years

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From Raegan Lafferty:

Heaven truly just gained an angel, so saddened by the news of the passing of Mrs. Donney by far the kindest hearted woman I’ve ever met and who was always making the world a better place by paying it forward no matter what, rest in peace, love you

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Zachary Richman:

My heart is in pieces right now…I can’t put into words how much Diane Lamperti Donney meant to me and every student she came in contact with at West Boca High. Taken from us way to soon, my heart goes out to her loving family and children. I love you Mrs. Donney! I know you’re up there looking down on us knowing we will keep paying it forward for you and making you proud!

Brianne Mielke:

I can’t believe what I just found out. One of my favorite teachers from West Boca has passed away.?? My heart breaks to hear this news. She was always such a kind teacher and I love how she stayed in contact after I graduated. She even noted how I inspired her to start living a healthier life and it encouraged me so. I am sending prayers to Mrs. Donney’s friends and family for comfort and peace during this time. ❤ She will be missed dearly

Donney was supportive of her students. In 2010 she nominated a student for a Character Counts recognition.