“Pumped Up Kicks” Unintentionally Plays During Passing Period, Alarms Students and Staff


Gloria Kosir

Empty hall minutes before a busy passing period.

By Gloria Kosir, Editor in Chief

During the passing period between 8th and 9th periods on Monday, Dec. 6, “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People played throughout Niles West’s intercom system. For the past several weeks, administration has been broadcasting music from an approved Spotify playlist during passing periods for four out of the five minutes. The song, which is associated with school shootings, is not on the hallway music playlist, according to an email from Principal Dr. Karen Ritter earlier this afternoon, but played as a Spotify recommendation.

“We are deeply troubled by this incident and we want all our students and families to know that Niles West is a safe space for everyone. We apologize if this caused any emotional harm to our students, faculty and staff,” Ritter wrote in the email.

The unexpected playing of the song came at an untimely period in American history, as it’s been less than a week since the fatal Oxford High School shooting in Michigan.

“Honestly I didn’t even notice, but after I saw the email I realized what was actually playing during the passing period. Then I realized it was definitely the wrong place, wrong time. That shouldn’t have been playing in a school in the first place,” junior Mia Cejovic said.

Cejovic wasn’t the only one who felt unsettled upon hearing the tune.

“I was walking to 9th period with two friends and I didn’t hear the song until one of them pointed it out. They had said what the song was about and I was in complete shock. I was so confused and disappointed that the school would’ve let a song like that play considering similar events occurring in another school community,” senior Isabelle Padron said.

Knowing that the song was not deliberately queued up to play did make a difference to Padron, however.

“I know that there was no intent for it to be played. But it’s just a matter of monitoring what songs are being played. If cuss words are being censored in music playing then I think topics like this should be given the same attention,” Padron said.

“I just remember people side-eyeing each other in the hallway, and my friend was on edge especially because of what happened in Michigan recently,” senior Sharon Varghese said.

The meaning of the song mixed with the context of a school building led to an unfortunate and nerve wracking situation for many across the school.

“I was very surprised because I heard it and didn’t realize until a few moments later and was like, ‘woah, this really isn’t something that’s appropriate to be playing in a school,’ especially a week after the school shooting in Oxford, Michigan,” freshman Gio Galanto said.

Playing “Pumped Up Kicks” was an unintentional happening, and the connotations connected to the song were brought to administrators’ attention by students and staff shortly after the song played. Songs with explicit lyrics and inappropriate themes are not played over the music system, and administration has stated that they will be taking action to prevent a similar situation.