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The 14 Biggest Yearbook Controversies

Inspired by events caused by a list that set off a national yearbook controversy in 2011 that made a lot of parents very angry, here's a list of the most ridiculous yearbook controversies in recent memory. From scandalous outfits, to accidental nudity, to some really, horribly racist practical jokes, here are thirteen yearbook controversies that teach us all that hey, maybe someone should be proofreading these things.

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  1. 1

    Kentucky Basketball Player Erased for Being Gay

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    You'd think playing starting point-guard would be enough to make you a member of the team. But that's not how the yearbook staff at Kentucky's Betsy Lane High School sees things. Did the homophobes in charge of putting together a two-page spread on the team seriously omit basketball star Dalton Maldonado's photo months after the teenager came out as gay?

    Maldonado claimed it was an intentional slight, but Floyd County Schools Superintendent Henry Webb said it was an accident, blaming "sheer human error" for leaving Maldonado's picture out of the group. Webb noted that Maldonado does appear 15 other times in the yearbook, which, to be fair, is way more than a lot of people get (not that I'm bitter). Still, Webb promised an investigation into the issue.

    Source: Huffington Post

  2. 2

    Hidden Message Flips 'Em the Bird


    A student decided to have the words "F*ck Y'all" hidden somehow on the cover of the yearbook.

    Shaker Heights High made their mistake when they decided to choose a student to illustrate their 2009 yearbook cover, but the student turned out to be kind of contrarian. Instead of taking his honored role seriously, like any boring person would do, he drew a picture that looked okay at first sight but contained a secret "F*ck y'all" message at further inspection. Kind of like a Magic Eye, only controversial.

    You do kind of have to hand it to the kid for how he pulled it off. Apparently you have to turn the book upside down to really see the words.

    Not sneaky enough though, since he was caught. The student gave his sincere apologies and then went on to work for Disney.


  3. 3

    Lesbian Student Excluded For Wearing Tuxedo


    Ceara Sturgis wanted to be different for her yearbook picture. Instead of the typical frilly dress or low-cut blouse, the openly gay student in Mississippi wore a tuxedo for her photo, but school officials gave it the big thumbs down and just completely excluded her from the yearbook altogether.

    It's really not the school's fault, though, and they were totally in the right because sources say that the entire school was accidentally sucked into a time vortex that transported all of them back to the 1950's and, you know, "it was a different time".

    Her mother, Veronica Rodriguez, told the Jackson Free Press that "they didn't even put her name in it."

    All because the girl felt more comfortable in clothes that expressed who she was than say, a costume? Rodriguez claimed that the school "yet again crapped on [Ceara] and made her feel alienated."

    Even with a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union demanding that Ceara's photo be included in the yearbook, the Copiah County School District still refused. Apparently, district officials have prior legal cases backing up their decision.


  4. 4

    16-Year-Old Coocha Exposed in Photo

    First of all, yes, I went with "coocha".

    One 16-year-old student's you-know-what made it into the yearbook, which hey, when I was her age, I barely made it into the yearbook at all, so at least she got in past her school picture. What? Just trying to find the positives here.

    On picture day, the girl in question showed up to school without wearing underwear so as to not create panty lines in her yearbook photos. Usually a good move, unless you forget to wear a dress that's long enough to cover your lady parts.

    The girl took her photo sitting in the front row in a green dress, but what set her apart from her "Pottery Club" peers was her, ahem, private bits on display for all of Sickles High School (and the world) to see.

    Thousands of copies of the yearbook were already printed and handed out before students discovered her exposed body part.

    The girl admitted that she indeed did not wear underwear and her mom said she would not force her to go back to school because of the revealing and embarrassing photo. #coolmom

    Special thanks to the local news report to making the picture an even bigger deal and exposing the girl to even more humiliation. Journalism!


  5. 5

    A Girl is Remembered as "Black Girl"

    This, is a total fail. Sure, a lot of things went wrong in a lot of these stories, but this is one of the biggest fails in yearbook fail history. How the hell do you even-no, no... I'll let you read the story yourself.

    Waxahachie High School isn't exactly known for its diversity and in a photo for the National Honor Society where there was only one black person in a sea of white people (they live in Texas), the yearbook staff drew a blank on the girl's name. She wasn't the same color as them, after all. So, they did what anyone does when they can't remember something: they put in a placeholder for her name. They labeled her only as "Black Girl," to be returned to when her name was discovered. Her name was to be changed back and everything would be fine.

    Here's the kicker: they never got around to changing her name. Yes, "Black Girl" was still only known to the school as "Black Girl." Everyone go back a few years and let's all get our Fight Club style group-think going and say it. "Her name is Shadoyia Jones".

    At least they capitalized "Black Girl" correctly...?...


  6. 6

    Funny Face is Considered Gang-Affiliated

    The fact that the headline for this could have been "Girl Accused of Throwing a Gang Sign with Her Face" shows how absurd this story was in general.

    So, just because "Goofy" and "Gangster" both start with Gs, James Madison High School's teachers got really confused (and this is who's teaching our children?) and decided they were one in the same.

    When administrators at James Madison High School saw the funny face 15-year-old Charlie Patton made in her yearbook photo, they flipped a lid. Clearly, this bright young girl's silly face would mean the end of all that is holy and would unleash hell and disorder upon the entire school district.

    For the offensive look, get this (and prepare yourself): a wide gaping grin, big surprised eyes, messy hair.

    The school officials, who had their sense of humor surgically removed, decided that this was not funny... but then they took it just a tad too far.

    They compared her positive, light-hearted expression to that of throwing up gang signs. Yes, gang signs. I'm not one for violence, but I would love to see whatever gang they thought this girl was representing have an all out war with a rival gang... perhaps one that wears frowns?

    Since when is smiling too big indicative of gang behavior? Maybe these teachers saw West Side Story one too many times.

    School officials released a statement saying, "Since the yearbook represents the school and the students, the goal is to have every student presented in the best light...Students who make inappropriate faces or gestures or who do not follow the school dress code in their yearbook photos are asked to retake their photo free of charge."

    It's a good thing that even through all the unnecessary drama, Charlie Patton is still smiling (as seen in the video above).


  7. 7

    A High School Poll Page Discusses Sex Opinions, Drug Familarity

    High school yearbooks often have a lot of fun with the survey page. It's a chance to present to the world (or the 0.01% of the world that actually have and look at yearbooks, as this is primarily an American tradition) the class of [insert every year ever here] and relive some of the trends experienced throughout the year.

    Innocent, right?

    Well, not so much for Pflugerville High School in Texas. The yearbook staff there decided to take a different spin on traditional surveys and instead asked students touchy questions like what they feel about sex, nicknames they've used for illegal drugs and the amount of times they drink on a regular basis; which, in my day, wouldn't have gotten past the initial idea phase.

    There's even an entire page devoted to teen pregnancy (naturally). It features an expecting high school couple as well as a sonogram of their baby. All this was supposed to encourage kids to be responsible but parents, of course, just don't understand.

    The district received a lot of phone calls and e-mails about the 2-page spread but released a statement saying that "The Pflugerville High School yearbook is a publication written by students for students and reflects the issues and trends at PHS in a given year. Each yearbook is a unique representation of the school's student body. Content is approved by a faculty advisor, and in this case, by the principal before publication. Pflugerville High School respects the viewpoint of parents and welcomes the opportunity to speak with them personally about their concerns."

    Which kind of sets the tone that for every generation, there are just different standards of what's okay, and the fact that any parents get outraged about (non-racist, nudity or murder-related) things in yearbooks is pretty unfounded and ridiculous.

    Also, a really uplifting part about kids today and the video above, and probably the only positive to come out of the whole thing is that, apparently, the girl in the wheelchair is getting some. And that is awesome. These kids are awesome.

    Moving on...


  8. 8

    Members of Black Student Union Given Offensive Fake Names

    The Black Student Union (BSU) at Charter Oak High School in Covina, CA were victims of a foul joke when they received their school yearbook only to find that the names of theirs members were changed to fake, racially offensive ones. The names ranged from "Tay Tay Shaniqua" to "Crisphy Nanos" to "Laquan White," all of which are inappropriate under any context.

    Widespread outrage within the community has come about out of this incident, but principal Kathleen Wiard would not state the disciplinary measures the school would use on suspected perpetrators.

    Since the discovery of the insulting prank, Charter Oak High School did provide stickers with the correct names to cover up the false ones but only a few of them had been requested. Instead, most of the students graduated with the yearbooks, fake BSU names and all, proving that efforts of mending this incident were all a little too late.


  9. 9

    River City High Cheerleaders Have VERY Revealing Outfits

    Cheerleaders have often created a stir with their eye-catching outfits and high kicks, but for the most part, that was a good thing. This time around, at River City High School in West Sacramento, CA, their short skirts were taunted rather than admired and the cheerleaders found themselves targeted inappropriately in the school yearbook.

    In a page titled "Who Wears Short Shorts," the pep squad was featured with some the girls showcasing digitally altered legs. The page then goes on to say that the team shows "more leg than Daisy Duke herself" and has "blatant disregard" for the "school dress code." Who in this generation knows Dukes of Hazzard references, though? Maybe it was one of the teachers.

    Pictures of the girls with their skirts flying up in the middle of jumps were also published, creating probably quite a few heart attacks among nerds and creepy uncles alike.

    After investigation, the vice principal of the school said that the yearbook page was not considered libel and that it was up to the students to make a change.

    The yearbook team did take responsibility for it in the end and the author of the page issued an apology saying, "I made an editorial mistake and I apologize for any pain that I may have caused... We [the yearbook staff] are currently taking steps to make amends.


  10. 10

    Murderers Granted Photos and Ad Space

    Killing is never cool. Allowing privileges to people who kill is also not cool... unless they weren't proven guilty.

    Souhegan High School in Amhert, NH decided to give a spot to two students who were accused of being part of a home invasion and robbery (but not convicted).

    Eighteen-year-old seniors Quinn Glover and William Marks were both accused of being involved in the October Mont Vernon home invasion and assaults that killed 42-year-old Kimberly Cates and seriously injured her daughter Jaimie. They were waiting for their trial after the October 4 murder when their high school yearbook was published.

    The boys were never expelled from the school and actually continued to get educational services from the district, so their photos (and an ad dedicated to Glover) was published along with the other students'.

    This, of course, enraged parents and the community and incited a letter from David Cates, husband of deceased Kimberly Cates, saying that the decision to include the two criminals in the yearbook was "disrespectful" and "a slap in the face."

    The school issued their apologies but stood by their decision.


  11. 11

    Anonymous Confessions Are Too "Realistic"

    High school is a tough world to live in and not exactly the friendliest of places to express oneself. That's why Massaponax High School in Fredericksburg, VA came up with a brilliant and revolutionary idea to change all that for their 2010 yearbook.

    The concept was for students to submit anonymous confessions through a Facebook page that would enlighten the student body of their similarities despite outward differences. Students were meant to feel connected through their secrets and identify themselves as who they really are, stripped of any given high school stereotype. That's not so bad, I mean kids deserve a voice, right?

    Wrong, apparently.

    principal Joe Rodkey had to stop production of the yearbook because of what he deemed as "offensive" material." The yearbook pages contained statements such as "I have sex with people just to feel wanted" and "I once did so much pot that I woke up high."

    Things that adolescents would actually say, if given the chance to be heard. But no, this was all too realistic for the school district. The school district believed the yearbook was inappropriate because it focused on negative things instead of positive accomplishments of a student's high school experience, which, c'mon, what do you remember more about high school? The positive or the negative? Exactly.

    Though the school was aware of the yearbook theme from the very beginning of the school year, principal Rodkey didn't read any of the contents until they were published. Yearbook staff member Tanya McClure (you might know her from such movies as "Yearbook Staffer 4"), however, does not stand by the school's decision to revoke the yearbooks. She says, "We're showing what high school is actually about, how people feel, struggles people go through. [...] It was a really supported idea throughout the school. We thought what we were doing was right, and I still think it's right."

    So once again, parents and teachers butting in to something that really, has nothing to do with them.


  12. 12

    Yearbook Cover Time Well Wasted

    Hey, if Brad Paisley can say it, why can't we (we being the student body or internet readers pretending to be the student body)?

    The 2010 yearbook cover of Plainview High School in Texas titled "Time Well Wasted" was said to be inspired by the country crooner's hit song of the same title, but school officials, parents and teachers weren't buying it.

    principal Lisa Kersh said that the cover "is saying school is a waste of time" and that even though surrealist painter Salvador Dali did philosophize that all time was indeed wasted and once it's gone you cannot get it back, "people look at things at face value."

    Yeah, that Dali thing is a bit far-fetched...but good try PHS.

    Even more, on top of the disgraceful cover that undermines education in general, the yearbook also featured a personal page by two senior boys that contained a hidden message that was not-so-well-hidden. Set in a poem format, the two seniors lined up letters of the phrase F*ck PHS in a column that was easily detected by a teacher.

    Also, a bunch of senior photos were apparently left out of the yearbook on accident. Wouldn't want to be in the yearbook team that year.


  13. 13

    Valedictorian and 2 Others Write Offensive Subliminal Ads

    Note to world: A hidden message never stays hidden in a yearbook. People look at these things. Sometimes, even the smartest person falls victim to that delusion.

    Like Ashley Videtto, the valedictorian of Midland Valley High School, who created a few fake ads to fill the space in the yearbook along with two other students.

    The messages were nowhere near uplifting. In one ad, they wrote "I Hate Yearbook" and even signed their initials on there. Really? You say you wanna become a what?

    Then, the group also composed an umbrella ad with the phrases "Buy Umbrellas Right Now! So Come and Hurry. Order On-Line!" It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that by taking the first letter of each word, you get "burn school."

    That's...a threat?

    The three students were suspended for five days but were still allowed to graduate (you know, cause they had the best grades in the school and all). The valedictorian even still delivered his speech but apologized for his actions in it.

    Still, students weren't taking the prank lightly. One student said, "It upsets me. It really does. If I could walk out during his speech and still graduate, get my diploma, I would do it."

    Fortune tellers told us in an earlier interview that this student will, at some point, be able to see the humor in something.


  14. 14

    Yearbook Formatted Like Jail Report

    Putting together a yearbook gives students a way to exercise their creativity. What font to use? What theme to go with? Colors and graphics to pick?

    There are endless possibilities to choose from and what does Glenn Hills High School go with? A crime-themed yearbook section in the format of The Jail Report, a local publication that depicts criminal charges and mug shots of booked individuals. Real classy, guys. Real classy.

    The section also labeled specific students with esteemed titles, such as "Most Likely to Become A porn Star" or "Exotic Dancer." You know, something mom and dad can really frame and show the neighbors and, more importantly, the grandparents.

    Superintendent Dana Bedden said that the content "created discomfort and disappointment" for parents as well as showed how little supervision was being held over the yearbook making process.

    However, not everybody thinks it's a big deal. Tanga Fitts whose son attended Glenn Hills High said, "The name could have been changed, but I think it's been blown way out of proportion. If you look back, there are plenty of silly things in yearbooks past."


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