Yearbook Captions Girls as ‘Fat and ‘Skinny; Where Was the Faculty Adviser?

Wenatchee High School in Washington is the latest to print mean-spirited fodder about its students

Last week I wrote about a high school in California that delayed the release of the bulk of its yearbooks after a staffer wrote a nasty article about the (in)appropriateness of the cheerleaders’ uniforms. While the school couldn’t force the yearbook staff to retract the article, they students did anyway, rewrote it and apologized. But what had me wondering was where was the faculty adviser who should have seen it and stopped it from being printed in the first place?

I’m scratching my head over the same thing today about a high school in Washington. Wenatchee High School’s yearbook has identified photos of two freshman girls not by their names, but by “fat” and “skinny.”

According to speculation, the staff put those labels in as placeholders because they didn’t know the girls’ names and forgot to update the page before the yearbook was finalized and 1,100 copies were printed.

The school has since cut out the page in question and the yearbook staff adviser said she doesn’t know who’s responsible for the captions.

“I believe the intention was to go get their names and replace them,” she said.

She admitted that no matter the intent, it was still unprofessional and wrong nonetheless.

The 280-page yearbook, which was compiled by a staff of 21, was sent to the printer in January or February but the mistake was not discovered until the books were distributed on May 31.

The yearbook staff posted an apology on their Facebook page:

“We made an awful mistake and it wasn’t intentional at all. If you could please stop talking about it, it would make the situation a lot better. Thank for understanding.”

The school’s assistant principal said they are now focused on healing and they will eventually talk about “what needs to be done.”

Um, how about have the staff yearbook adviser read every page of the yearbook before it goes to the printer? It may seem like a daunting task (depending on the size of the school and the yearbook), but isn’t that one of the main reasons why the position exists?

When kids call a fellow student “fat,” there’s no mistake about the fact that they’re being mean — plain and simple. Off the top of my head I can think of several dozen other placeholder captions that could have been used to identify girls whose names were unknown until they figured it out (how about “Freshman Girl 1,” for example?).

Clearly these high school kids aren’t mature enough to oversee a permanent publication without supervision. I blame the kids for being mean-spirited, but I blame the teacher in charge even more for not trying to get the kids to understand the seriousness of their responsibilities, and most of all for not catching a word so hurtful before it fell into the hands of 1,100 other students.

Mistakes happen, but this is one that shouldn’t have occurred in the first place.

Do you think a mistake like this is understandable or unacceptable?

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