From the Chicago Tribune:
Steve Schering, Pioneer Press
The Oak Park and River Forest High School board has decided to reprint the 2018-2019 yearbook after more than a dozen photos of students engaging in the “circle game” were discovered inside.
The high school will pay Jostens $53,794 to reprint the yearbooks, and officials say they hope to have the new books delivered to students by mid-June.
Graduation, however, is June 2, so this decision means that graduates won’t get a chance to sign each other’s Yearbooks with funny inscriptions until long after they’ve dispersed, which means most of them will never do it. So, this delay has lifetime implications for the graduates in denying them a sentimental souvenir of their high school years.
… The school board called a special meeting May 20 to discuss the future of the current yearbooks, which have been printed and are currently at the high school but have yet to be distributed. In total, 1,750 yearbooks were ordered and printed, officials said.
Last week, administrators announced the yearbooks would not be distributed in their current format after officials found 18 photos inside of students making an upside-down “OK” gesture. The school said the students flashing the sign were of “of various races, ethnicities, genders and grades.”
The school board’s decision left some of the “Tabula” yearbook staff in tears, though officials said they did nothing wrong.
“My understanding is [yearbook staff] followed protocol,” Superintendent Joylynn Pruitt-Adams said. “Things in this country change so rapidly. I don’t want anyone to think we are accusing our students of anything. For us, it was the impact of what the publication could have on the student body.”
Pruitt-Adams said other options such as cutting some pages out of the yearbook or placing stickers over the photos in question were also studied but were deemed infeasible.
The “circle game” hand gesture began as part of a juvenile “made-you-look” game but has been appropriated in recent years by white supremacists.
The cover of the 2018-19 ‘Tabula’ student yearbook was designed by late Oak Park and River Forest High School student Thomas Hunt, who died May 4 in a multi-car crash in Oak Park. (OPRF High School)
So, it would have been an emotional moment when seniors got their yearbooks that had been designed by their late classmate, but, too bad …
… “It is our hope, if we get the books back by June 18, we have a special event at school for seniors to get their official yearbooks and get them signed,” Pruitt-Adams said. …
Board member Matt Baron, who along with board member Tom Cofsky voted against reprinting the books, said he went “back and forth” over the issue, but came to a decision after seeing the photos in question.
“What I saw provided me with the context that so many of us have lacked as this conversation has escalated on social media and in other spaces,” Baron said. “Before viewing the photos, I fully expected a certain ‘type’ of student, specifically white boys, would be overwhelmingly represented among those making the hand gesture. The actual situation encompasses a cross-section of about 50 students from throughout the entire student body, cutting across gender, race, grade as well as activity or club type.”
Board president Jackie Moore said her immediate concern was for all OPRF students, and expressed disappointment at some of the comments she’s heard and received.
“We never said the book was not coming out,” Moore said. “At the end of the day, integrity matters. I would never want a symbol of this high school to represent, for anybody, harm. That is what the potential is for having this book come out as-is. If we care about all of our students, we have to stand behind them. We have to do better. I am not willing to do that on the back of students who would be harmed by this.”
A lovely future today’s youth have to look forward to, in which their employers will be expected to check through their old high school yearbooks looking for now verboten ways to hold your hands, such as index finger touching thumb, and fire them.