Feature: From the School House

Yearbook Content Creates Controversy

Author: Carol Richtsmeier
Published: May 23, 2010 at 6:26 am
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Well, it certainly didn't take long before some school somewhere ignited a firestorm over a yearbook. This year the biggest brouhaha seems to be brewing over at Massaponax High School in Virginia.

It seems the kiddos over there printed "confessions" and scattered quotes with sexual innuendoes throughout their yearbook. Jeepers creepers, according to news reports, we're talking about stuff like…

  • "I have sex with people just to feel wanted."
  • "I worry all the time my ex-boyfriend will use the naked picture I sent him to ruin my life."
  • "I had an abortion and my mom doesn't know."
  • "I once did so much pot that I woke up high."
  • "I'm pregnant with my best friend's boyfriend's kid."

As a yearbook adviser, stuff like that not only makes me cringe, it  makes me wonder what part of that equation ever sounded like a good idea? Secrets, teens, sex, abortions, drugs… does anything good EVER come out of that mix?

The principal is trying to recall the books and have them reprinted without the confessions or suggestive quotes.

"It's totally inappropriate for a high school yearbook," Principal Rodkey said. "The students, the school and this community deserve a better yearbook than what I have."

One mom told the local newspaper that the yearbook didn't contain any photographs of the "the football team, or of JV field hockey, but there's plenty of sex and drugs."

I'm glad I'm not anywhere near that kind of storm. I dealt with my own kind of storm the day before we distributed yearbooks at my school. We had a little tornado zoom by our school. Tornado as in the Wizard of Oz kind except minus the ruby red slippers, some singing munchkins and the witch.

When I saw Mr. Tornado, for a brief moment, I stood paralyzed, and not because I was afraid of Mr. Tornado. No siree, Missy. Paralyzed because the thought of all those yearbooks being sucked into oblivion, having to reprint them all and re-sort them all was scarier than actually seeing that darn twister. Scarier still, though, is why common sense doesn't prevail on some yearbook staffs when it comes to content and coverage, and why that sort of discussion doesn't occur before the books are published.

 
 

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Article Author: Carol Richtsmeier

Carol Richtsmeier teaches journalism at a public high school in Texas where her students and publications have won numerous local, state and national awards. She chronicles her teaching escapades in her blog at mybellringers.blogspot.com. …

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