Can’t a kid get a school yearbook without the high school drama?
Apparently not this year as several controversies have caused school districts across the country to recall or revamp their yearbooks, and even apologize for them.
Last week a high school senior in Wisconsin was suspended indefinitely after a coded racist message he wrote in the yearbook was discovered after the books were distributed.
The message wasn’t found during the normal editing process because it was hidden on a page of quotes from seniors, according to The Leader-Telegram in Eau Claire, Wisc.
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The first letter of each of the words in the quote spells out: “I hate blacks.”
After the message was discovered, principal David Munoz sent a letter to the school community about what the student called “a prank.”
“Menomonie High School is a diverse and inclusive school that does not condone racist comments, bullying, or any other forms of discrimination,” Munoz wrote in the letter.
Parents demonstrated at the school in support of students of color at the school.
The school district told students they can tear out the page or use a school-provided sticker to cover up the quote.
The school superintendent told the school board this week that the yearbook’s senior notes page won’t ever again be used in the yearbook.
One resident told the Leader-Telegram she was also concerned about this quote from Adolph Hitler that another senior used in the yearbook: “The victor will never be asked if he told the truth.”
A Hitler quote popped up in an Oklahoma yearbook this year, too.
The principal of Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School in Oklahoma City apologized after students found a quote attributed to the Nazi leader right below a quote by Holocaust victim Anne Frank.
Students discovered the quote when they got the books earlier this month, according to the Associated Press.
Here’s what happened. Seniors were allowed to choose quotes to go along with their senior portraits. One student chose this: “If you want to shine like the sun, first you have to burn like it.” According to AP, some translations of Hitler’s manifesto, “Mein Kampf,” include a quote with similar wording, though the author has been disputed.
School officials, like those in Wisconsin, are offering stickers to students who want to cover the quote in their books.
“I deeply apologize for this incident, and have made steps to ensure that this does not happen again,” principal David Morton wrote in a letter to parents last week.
“There are consequences for actions that bring discredit or harm to the school, and they have been enforced.
“Ultimately, however, the final blame rests on my shoulders, as I am charged with the responsibility of not only keeping our students safe, but instilling in them an understanding of what it means to be a part of this great Catholic community.”
The school is now reviewing its process for approving students’ quotes.
A yearbook quote got North Carolina high schooler Miranda Taylor in hot water this year, too.
But she’s sorry/not sorry, for what she did.
Taylor, who graduated last week from Richmond Early College High School, is unapologetic for using the Trump rally cry “Build that wall” under her yearbook photo.
She believes hers was one of the yearbook quotes school officials felt were “inappropriate,” prompting them this month to recall yearbooks that had already been distributed, according to the Richmond County Daily Journal in Rockingham, N.C.
School officials did not cite examples of the inappropriate quotes or say how many there were.
They decided not to have the yearbooks reprinted, the Daily Journal reported, promising to reimburse students who had already bought one.
Taylor said all seniors were given the chance to use a quote they found meaningful. In a statement released on Saturday, the day after graduation, she said she became interested in politics after taking an American history class and is “disappointed that the same system that encouraged me to find my voice is now telling me to shut up.
“Because of those statements, social media has now decided that I am prejudiced, racist, and have no right to freedom of speech. I have been (threatened) by hundreds of people that I don’t even know, just because I quoted our president.”
She is sorry that her classmates won’t get a yearbook but she’s not sorry for “defending my freedom of speech,” she said in her statement. “I have always been taught that when I am given a choice, it is up to me to make that choice. I will choose God and my country every time.”
A high school sophomore in Minnesota is not as big a fan of the president as Taylor, and now Brainerd High School has launched an investigation into how a comment she made in private about Trump got into the yearbook.
The quote appeared on a page where students were asked if they liked the president, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.
It said: “I would like to behead him. I do not like him.”
On Friday Trump supporter, actor Scott Baio, posted a picture of that yearbook page to his Twitter account and on Facebook, touching off a flood of angry comments on the school’s Facebook page.
The student the quote was attributed to told a local TV station she made the comment in passing last fall in a casual conversation with an acquaintance at the school.
She said the acquaintance never mentioned the yearbook and said she meant the president no harm. She also said she’s been getting death threats since the yearbook came out.
In a statement released on the school’s website Friday, administrators apologized that “the existing processes for reviewing the yearbook did not result in the removal of the inappropriate statements” and said an investigation is underway to find out what happened.
“The district does not support or otherwise endorse any disrespectful or politically based statements that are in the yearbook and apologizes for the statements that were included,” the statement said.
“While the district supports free speech, the disrespectful statements in the yearbook are contrary to the basic educational mission of the district and should not have been included in a school sponsored publication.”