Shout or Shun?

The high school yearbook; the quintessential culmination of your high school experience. Loaded with quotes, lists, and photos, they are also laced with headaches for administrators and beyond. Why? Errors. Intentional and unintentional.

In the past few weeks, I’ve read several articles about mishaps. Some are intentional; some appear just to be legitimate mistakes that end up turning into something because… well, just because.

Let’s start with the recent yearbook debacle in Wall Township. As a resident, I can attest that this has a strong conservative base. There’s nothing wrong with that, but when people try to, it becomes a problem. The article shows the senior in a Trump t-shirt, with copies of the photos he purchased with the Trump logo. The yearbook comes out – the picture had the Trump logo removed off of his shirt.

Love or loathe our President, removing a logo from a shirt is a clear violation of rights. This is a public school, and while Boards can set dress codes, there is nothing wrong with a t-shirt. If the t-shirt had something inappropriate (drugs, sex, clearly defined inappropriate language) – you replace. But a Trump logo?

The yearbook advisor was suspended during the investigation. While I think that too is going way beyond what is necessary, I’m going to assume that this was a student who did this. I am giving the licensed educator the benefit of the doubt knowing that doing something of this nature would be wrong.

Another incident has a senior in Northern NJ showing off her shoulders with a quote asking everyone if her shoulders distracted everyone from reading her yearbook quote. Personally, I loved her quote – and I’m not the only one. Her photo and quote were picked up by almost every major media outlet and a myriad of print resources, including Seventeen magazine and The Huffington Post. Call her smug, call her sassy, call her what. I call her brilliant. She points out an archaic policy that leads to this BOE getting a negative spotlight. International spectacle over mundane dress code policies leads to failure. it appears that this is another classic example of either administration or Board out of touch with today’s times and the power of social media. I’m hoping that they will address this instead of being the laughing stock of the world because of stubborn minds.

The last NJ Yearbook debacle that gained an eye or two was where a student claimed that her name was not misspelled, but another name was in her place and the only reason that was the case if because she’s African American.  While I certainly sympathize with her for the years of getting her name incorrectly and understand the frustrations of being called the wrong name in school, I do not think this was an intentional action on behalf of the yearbook staff.

Hopefully, people will see these news stories and reflect on their current practices so that one can enjoy yearbooks instead of being the focal point of them for all the wrong reasons. I was one of those cherubs who in my 1997 senior yearbook who also put a snarky comment in my yearbook not thanking one of the teachers.  Snarky? Yep. 1st Amendment? Yep. Wrong?  Nope.  Got a conversation going about how to fix things so all students can be/feel accepted.  Yep.  Onward we go?  Naturally.

 

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