Principal backs slaughter of steer at school

The Associated Press
Saturday May 19, 2001

BREA — A 1,000-pound steer raised at a parochial school was slaughtered in front of more than 100 students, some as young as 5, to teach them where meat comes from – a demonstration that has drawn protests from some quarters. 

The youngsters had their parents’ permission to watch, but animal rights organizations objected along with teen-age protesters from outside the school, situated in a well-to-do rural area on the outskirts of this Orange County community. 

The 2-year-old steer named T-Bone was killed by a butcher Thursday at Carbon Canyon Christian School.  

Pastor and principal Dave Kincer on Friday defended the demonstration, which is part of an agricultural ranching program, noting the students who cared for and fed the animal knew it would be slaughtered. 

“We sent out a paper to all parents, saying that it was time to dress (the steer),” he said. “It was an awesome experience. It gave them a chance to see up close what they’ve been reading about in books all year.” 

More than half of the school’s 170 students observed after their parents signed permission slips. Some students got queasy and left during the lesson, but most were fascinated, Kincer said. 

It was the first time a steer was killed at the school and Kincer wouldn’t say whether it would happen in the future. 

The carcass was taken to a Brea meat market where it was being prepared for consumption and returned to the school, Kincer added. 

The school has been inundated with hundreds of phone calls from people upset about the demonstration and interview requests from the media. Some students have even been teased by other kids about Thursday’s event. 

Suzanne Daigle, 14, said she was outside a store when some students from a nearby school shouted “slaughterers” to her and her friends. Daigle, who aspires to be a surgical nurse, said she didn’t have a problem watching the event, but said “it also made me realize how quickly life can be taken.” 

“Studies have shown that when children view violence against animals, it desensitizes them to animal cruelty and makes them more aggressive,” said Lacey Levitt of Los Angeles-based Last Chance for Animals. 

About a dozen teenagers who do not attend the school tried to stop the slaughter by forming a human chain to keep the butcher from entering the campus. But police told them they could not block access. 

Anjali Heble, 15, said a friend who attends the school told her a few days ago about the slaughter. 

“Everyone was just shocked that this was going on,” said Heble, a sophomore at a nearby public school. “They were killing this cow in front of children who don’t have the ability to understand it. ... They don’t know how to handle this.” 

Some public school officials did not oppose the public slaughter, noting that 4-H clubs typically raise animals and learn about the food chain. 

“It can be shocking and disturbing to children if they aren’t prepared by school administrators,” said William Habermehl, superintendent of the Orange County Department of Education. However, he said, “there is no doubt it’s an educational experience as long as there is parental permission and it’s age-appropriate.” 

He said “age-appropriate” might depend on such things as whether the youngster was raised on a farm. 

Janice Broyles, a parent and a science teacher at the school, told the Register she welcomed the chance to show students how blood pumps from the heart and what tendons look like up close – lessons demonstrated as the animal was being cut apart. 



As for her three children, ages 7 to 11, she said: “I was concerned about my 7-year-old seeing it. It could be scary to see death. But he was really fascinated. I think it was an excellent lesson.” 

City Councilman Steven Vargas said Friday no laws were broken and no zoning violations occurred at the 43-acre campus. 

The school is nestled in the rolling hills of eastern Orange County. It is sandwiched between horse farms and a state park.