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VIDEO: Kindergarten Graduation Ends in Brawl

A fight among family members at Friendship School in Waterford results in arrests

WATERFORD, CT -- Kindergarten graduations are supposed to be cute but the Waterford Friendship School’s ceremony on June 11 turned downright ugly when a brawl ensued over which parent should have their child’s diploma.

Waterford Police were called to the scene at 11:24 a.m. following reports of a fight in progress in the school lobby. By the time they got there, the warring parties had been separated but police were able to determine that everyone involved was related either by blood or by marriage.

According to police reports, the argument started when the child's mother asked her daughter’s paternal grandmother if she could have a copy of the child’s diploma. Witnesses told police that the child’s father, 24-year-old Ernesto Quinones of 40 Crystal Avenue in New London, took exception to that.

Police stated that Quinones, who has sole custody of the child, responded by grabbing his mother’s purse to prevent her from handing over the diploma. At that point, other family members who had been standing around taking photographs joined the fray.

“A melee ensued in which most or all of the family members began to fight with one another,” the police incident report said. 

The whole fracas was recorded on the school’s surveillance cameras. Police stated that the video shows Ernesto slamming his mother into a concrete wall, but the women weren’t merely the victims in all this. Far from it.

Footage shows one woman, who the police report describes as being five months pregnant, grabbing another by the hair. The pregnant woman ultimately fell to the ground at which point, she told police, she was kicked in the head. 

Police arrested Ernesto Quinones and charged him with breach of peace, with engaging in a fight capable of causing minor injury, and with risk of injury to a child. Police also arrested 20-year-old Felicia Strong of 93 State Pier Road, New London, and 31-year-old Diana Quinones of 40 Crystal Avenue, New London, and charged both women with breach of peace and with engaging in a fight that could cause minor injury.   

Correction: An earlier version of this story based on an incident report in which most of the names had been redacted incorrectly stated that Felicia Strong is the child's mother. Strong is a relative but the child's mother was not among those who were arrested.

Common Sense June 14, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Sounds like the 5 year old kindergarteners are more mature than their parents.
Amanda Bowes Smith June 14, 2012 at 04:57 PM
So glad names were published, though it probably won't embarass the guilty parties, since clearly they weren't embarassed by their behavior at the time. Like many others I feel for the child involved, but I also feel for all the other children whose special day was interrupted. Let's hope the lessons learned in school will help this child get a better foundation than she's getting at home.
robert wilson June 14, 2012 at 05:17 PM
What a sad situation, more of it being the about adults and not the children.
fixit June 14, 2012 at 05:31 PM
I don't see how anyone can find it NOT funny....C'mon..a brawl at a kindergarten "graduation".....You can't write comedy like this...
Charlene Hahn June 14, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Wow, what terrific role models they all are for these precious little ones....Gerry Springer their ready for your show!!!!
David Irons June 14, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Ron, I hope and pray that the child will be a little smarter than his or her parents. Not that this will take all that much effort.
knick fan June 14, 2012 at 05:37 PM
And everyone wonders why kids are how they are. Today's kids have so many obstacles. You have peer pressure,drugs,teachers wanting sex, face to face bullying and cyber bullying and to top it all off you have immature parents.I really believe that these walls they must climb is why we have kids committing suicide, giving up on the whole growing up pressures of life. We say parents and not sports figures should be the child's role model but when you have parents fighting at graduations,parent drug addicts,parents that are more childish than the children themselves it sure makes you wonder what tomorrow's leaders will be like.
Dennis June 14, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Kevin, you cant see the humor in a brawl in a school named "Friendship". Lighten up.
Dennis June 14, 2012 at 05:56 PM
i think the better story would be why all the hatred in the family. Two girls going at it is one thing, but the whole family??
Dennis June 14, 2012 at 05:59 PM
since many family members were involved - I doubt it.
Dennis June 14, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Why does it reflect poorly on the town??? Im sure this is simply one family that lives there.
Dennis June 14, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Jut like Kevin, Jason lighten up. So far, except for you two, everyone seems to have understood what Kathy was refering to. Put a little humor in your life Jason. You will feel better. You know you have a good school, and town so who cares what anyone says about them.
Dennis June 14, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Wow, Kimberly, you must be young. "50 year old grandparents" as if that is really old. Now I feel half dead!! :)
Dennis June 14, 2012 at 06:15 PM
LOL Kudos to you.
JThomas June 14, 2012 at 06:27 PM
I taught Kindergarten for 14 years and now 1st grade for 7 years. Although the parents/grandparents actions are completely childish, this is exactly why anytime I have children with more than one set of parents, I always duplicate certificates, awards, etc. and give them to both families. It really helps to keep the peace.
. June 14, 2012 at 06:30 PM
When I was a kid there was no such thing as graduation from kindergarten. I think it is ridiculous. Next there will be a graduation from every grade...... nonsense!
me June 14, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Just want to let you know Paul Petrone you have the wrong information about the 20 year old arrested. she is not the child's mother.
me June 14, 2012 at 06:50 PM
its only because they are leaving the school after Kindergarten. The Friendship School only goes up to K. Its just like having a promotion ceremony from grade 5-6 when you leave to go to middle school.
Debbie June 14, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Ron, please don't prejudge the Child based on the stupidity of the Father's actions. Too often this happens to Children and they become discouraged & feel hopeless. He/She will have a rough road ahead without any of us counting him/her out already.
Elissa Bass June 14, 2012 at 07:39 PM
We have corrected the story (see article): An earlier version of this story based on an incident report in which most of the names had been redacted incorrectly stated that Felicia Strong is the child's mother. Strong is a relative but the child's mother was not among those who were arrested.
Paul Guilbeault June 14, 2012 at 08:42 PM
This entire country is going to hell in a bucket with the Bozo's in charge. People are so stressed over how they are going to survive that tension is incredibly bad. To have it happen at a child's event shows us how bad this is and why the USA is in the PITS.
Daniella Ruiz June 15, 2012 at 12:36 PM
rather, lets call it, the children aren't as socially contaminated as the parents, yet. their innocence is perhaps their strength, but slowly and surely, that clean and sincere innocence will be sullied and mingled with the 'adult world' of big, peoples values (or lack of them!). focus on the children, as these parents are too far gone to ever change.
Tilley Street Chronicles June 15, 2012 at 02:09 PM
See the video here http://youtu.be/MgiVRzSso54
E June 15, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I can't speak with any knowledge of the Friendship School, but from I've gathered from the original story and the associated posts, I would geuss that they have undertaken the role of parenting these children, as well as trying to educate. Perhaps even more so. Kindergarten is more about social integration than education. Obviously, these parents aren't nearly as concerned with their children as they are obsessed with their own arguement. Parents blame teachers for their own inability to parent, teachers are afraid to correct reprehensible behavior in children for fear of lawsuits or other repercussions, and ultimately, the children suffer. it sounds as if the Friendship school has what is sorely lacking in todays society which is " The Courage To Change The Things That I Can". Go America.
nascarblue June 19, 2012 at 09:43 AM
come on here, you are parents, grandparents, etc. you all sound like little kids, what was a very proud moment for these little graduating kids you so called adults turned this into a very emotional scarred moment for the kids, you all should be ashamed of yourselves, this will not end, kids talk and sometimes the things they say can be mean, because these kids are small they usually speak the truth, the kids of these parents will start calling the ones involved in the fracas names, etc. i hope you all are proud of yourselves, this was a very special moment for the kids and you all turned it into a scary time, now you have laid the groundwork for the kids to try and understand why everyone was fighting, maybe if you decide to grow up and show your kids how proud you are of them and give them the hugs and kisses they deserve, this graduation moment you can not turn back and have a do-over, your damage has been recorded, hope your proud of yourselves.
Jennifer June 19, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Paul, please give some serious consideration to removing this video. It is an unfortunate situation by young adults who still have much to learn about being grown ups and more...But, there is a child behind this video and my heart hurts for her. You are doing her a diservice by sharing this video and I ask that you remove it. Thank you.
farm guy June 19, 2012 at 09:00 PM
what did Waterford expect when they decidied to create a partnership with New London?
wtfdrez June 20, 2012 at 04:02 PM
These chilldren were actually graduating from the Friendship school itself, so it is a big deal, most of these kids started this school when they were 3 years old, My son went to the school when it first opened and he loved it. I disagree that it is a mistake to have a partnership with New London. There are losers in every single town.
Daniella Ruiz June 24, 2012 at 03:49 PM
i tend to agree with Jen, the video (very nicely done i must admit) reeks of exploitation and sensationalism. as transpired on the school bus with the granny that was ragged on in Greece, NY, it sends poor messages to others regarding what is good content and what is, well, just plain trash. clearly, some of these videographers are seeking a 'high' from their own talented work, while others merely are seeking any means to use other people's pain as a tool for their own benefit.
Jennifer June 24, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Dear Farm Guy...I have had the opportunity to work in both New London and Waterford School Systems and can tell you WITHOUT A DOUBT that incidents like this occur in both Waterford and New London. Your comment reeks of ignorance about what occurs in the town of Waterford!

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