A flash mob gathers Feb. 20 to dance the "Harlem Shake" in front of the Berlin cathedral in Germany in sub-zero temperatures. / John MacDougall, AFP, Getty Images
HIGHLAND, Mich. - The video was meant to generate a buzz online.
It did. But the shirtless, pelvic-thrust-filled take on the "Harlem Shake" Internet dance craze that was recorded in a Milford High School classroom also led to more than two dozen students being suspended.
"It was a really bad decision looking back. It was fun to do, but we got in a lot of trouble," said senior Anthony Dawson, 18, who appears in the video on YouTube dancing with his pet duck named Mordecai. Dawson was suspended for five days beginning Monday.
In all, more than 30 students received suspensions of three to five days for their involvement in the "Harlem Shake" video and another video that involved racial slurs that appeared on the same YouTube channel, WhiteBoysMakingNoise, said Kim Root, spokeswoman for Huron Valley Schools.
Not every student who was disciplined was involved in both videos, she said.
The students' actions violated provisions of the student code of conduct that reference vulgarity, indecency, misrepresentation and the use of racial slurs, Root said.
The second video contained a derogatory slang term for Middle Easterners and a simulated masturbation scene, she said. It has since been removed from YouTube.
"With increased access to social media by our students, we cannot take this activity lightly," she said. "We hold our students to a very high standard, and therefore they must be held accountable for their actions."
Milford High School principal Kevin McKenna was alerted to the "Harlem Shake" video Friday and then also saw the other video, Root said.
The "Harlem Shake" video, a take on a worldwide craze of people creating and posting their own video versions of the dance online, shows several students sitting in a classroom as a young man wearing a helmet dances between desks. It then abruptly cuts to a scene showing the other students, most of whom are shirtless or wearing costumes, dancing in a sexually suggestive way.
"We have an obligation to monitor and care for our facilities and the use of our facilities. Because this was shot on school property, we can take the type of action that we're taking," Root said, referring to the suspensions.
At least four other high schools suspended students earlier this month who shot "Harlem Shake" videos at school.
Root said the students here lied to a teacher to get access to the classroom where the "Harlem Shake" video was recorded during after school hours.
Dawson said the students weren't clear about what they planned to record in the room but never lied.
Dawson, who plans to study broadcasting and video production in college, said he started the YouTube Channel WhiteBoysMakingNoise about a year ago. He and a core group of about seven or eight friends produce videos with a comic bent, he said.
Dawson said he and his friends created the "Harlem Shake" video about a week and a half ago in the hopes of generating views online.
"We didn't think it would blow up like this," he said of the thousands of hits the video got. "We just wanted to get our YouTube channel a lot of views."
He also said: "Instantly our whole school was talking about it, and it got to the teachers pretty fast."
Including the duck, he said, added "a little pizzazz, something no other 'Harlem Shake' video could bring,"
"A lot of people said he (the duck) didn't like it. He wasn't complaining, Dawson said. "I know when he gets angry; I've had him a few years."
The other video with racial slurs was part of a compilation of short skits. He said it was recorded about a month ago and meant to be funny, but also said it was "inappropriate."
Along with the suspension, Dawson, a member of the school's track team, will have to miss the first track meet later this school year. He said he already has been accepted to a college and hopes the incident doesn't negatively affect his plans.
He and the students who were disciplined believe their punishments were a little harsh.
"We're all good kids. ... We all get good grades. None of us have ever gotten suspended or anything like that before," Dawson said.
Contributing: Megha Satyanarayana, Detroit Free Press
VIDEO: Milford High School students' take on the "Harlem Shake" in Highland, Mich.
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Read the original story: Teens suspended over suggestive 'Harlem Shake' video