High school yearbooks have long been considered mementos of our past, a way to remember high school experiences and friends. However, last year in some local schools, high school yearbooks became a source of contention between advisers and school officials when the yearbooks at several local high schools were found to contain obscene language and racist remarks.
Should there be guidelines for what can and cannot be printed in a yearbook?
A yearbook symbolizes the school and the people who make the school. I feel there should be guidelines to printing a yearbook. You never know who is going to see the yearbook, so it should represent what the school was. You have to catch the reader's eye and interest him, so the yearbook should be creative and interesting. It is a project that needs a lot of care and attention.ANTOINETTE HOUSTON McKinley
The first thing we are taught in school is that we have the right to freedom of speech. Then we are taught what is appropriate to say and what isn't. Not all of us learn this second lesson well, however, and some continue to say the wrong things; justifying themselves with the given freedom to say anything we choose.
A high school yearbook is designed to reflect its school and the students who go there, no matter who they are and what they say. If the majority of the students in a school are racist and foul-mouthed, then let it be known. If that is the true spirit of the school, it should not be covered up. If the school's administration disagrees with something that a student wants to print in the yearbook, let them take it up with the student editor.
The final decision should always be that of the editor and the editor alone. SARAH HOLWAY Edmund Burke
A yearbook is an expression of the memories and unity experienced by students in a school's community. It is a token -- a legacy -- meant to be cherished. Consequently, to ensure kindness, fairness and good taste, yearbooks should be censored.
In addition to the yearbook's staff, there should also be a student committee, elected by the entire student body, to uphold the interests of each member of a school's community; students and staff and administrators. This group would have the authority to revoke offensive copy and photos. KEISHA ABNEY Georgetown Visitation
Yearbooks should not be censored for various reasons, but some are more important than others. The idea of censorship in yearbooks can be thought of as infringement of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment governs civil liberties which include freedom of religion, of speech, of the press, of assembly and of petition.
Two of these liberties, freedom of speech and freedom of the press, are relevant to censorship. Freedom of speech means that any person has the right to be able to speak out publicly and privately. Freedom of the press gives newspapers, television, magazines and, in this case, yearbooks the right to express their feelings and ideas. Each of these liberties can not be denied provided there are no slanderous or false statements made.
Therefore, it seems to be a pretty cut and dried situation; as long as the yearbook holds to the stipulations of the amendments to the Constitution, there should be no immediate censorship of a book that contains memorabilia which will last a lifetime. SHAKONDA BROWN Calvin Coolidge
A yearbook is supposed to be something that brings back good memories about good times. Obscene language and racist remarks might be macho now, but when you get older and show your yearbook to your children, or to your parents, they will not believe you attended school with such hateful people.
Humor is appropriate for a yearbook, but insulting remarks are in bad taste and are not appropriate and I think ethnic comments are out of line. There should be guidelines. An editorial board made up of all different kids should be given the job of issuing guidelines for the yearbook staff. TONY FAIR St. John's
Using profane language in a yearbook is really up to the publishers. Everyone has the right to a free press and, as long as it isn't hurting anyone, I believe it is okay.
Racial remarks are another issue. Such comments are a disgrace and I'm sure no one appreciates them other than those who participate in these ignorant exercises. Yearbooks are produced so that people will be able to reminisce about their high school friends and events. I would not want to remember any of my "friends" who would make racial slurs.
Many seniors represent their schools in very positive ways; they compete in athletics, as well as in other activities, to show their dedication and support for their school. These same seniors pay for the book and look forward to enjoying the year's photos and comments, they don't expect or deserve to be ridiculed because of their race. BRIAN BRADFORD H.D. Woodson
There shouldn't be guidelines for what can and cannot be printed in a yearbook. First and foremost, the yearbook is something that will remind students of their senior year. If there is a restriction on what is in a yearbook, what is the purpose of having one? Restricting a yearbook's staff is actually restricting their constitutional right to freedom of speech and of the press. Taking away freedom is always dangerous.
Moreover, imposing restrictions puts a black cloud over youth's brilliant ideas; it tends to curb creativity. Someday, I would like to be a writer and I would not like anyone telling me what I can and cannot write. NICOLE RIDGELY Roosevelt
I think there should be guidelines for what can be written in a yearbook. Everyone is entitled to what he or she thinks should be written in a yearbook, but the yearbook committee is responsible for what is written.
If anyone has any racist remarks or obscenity to say, he or she should keep it to themselves. Such remarks can hurt someone's feelings or start confusion in school. It's important that a school have unity between each of the members.
Let's go back to the past, when what could be printed was more carefully considered. MICHAEL KINARD Anacostia
Should there be guidelines for yearbooks? I don't know; it depends on what kind of rules and on what the yearbook has been printing in the past.
Of course, the school should have guidelines for things that are inappropriate for a school yearbook, but not for regular material that most students are interested in. For example, problems like the ones at Bowie and Parkdale don't have anything to do with school; I'm talking about racism and name calling.
Students should be able to fill the book with their own ideas and words, but making sure that the words are suitable for the people who will buy or see the yearbook, such as parents and the administrators. ALEXA PINKNEY Ballou
I think that guidelines have to be established for what can be printed in yearbooks. A committee which includes teachers and students could decide on the guidelines. This committee could run an opinion poll to let all the students say what they feel should be included in the yearbook.
I personally think a yearbook should not contain any obscenity or racist remarks. The yearbook is a reflection of the student body and most schools today have a multiracial and multicultural student body. If a yearbook contains racist remarks, it would offend some of the students. The same is true of obscenity. MARIO SORIANO Bell Multicultural Students Speak Out: Topic for Oct. 25
Many of the people who have been identified as "heroes" of young people have later turned out to have personal failings which tarnish their reputations and standing as "heroes." Baseball legend Pete Rose was imprisoned for tax evasion and censured in baseball for illegal gambling. Both John and Robert Kennedy have been implicated in the media as men who frequently cheated on their wives. District Mayor Marion Barry was arrested and tried on drug charges.
Have these incidents affected the way you look at "heroes"? Do you still have any "heroes"? Who are they and why?
Written responses should be no more than 150 words in length and typed or written legibly. We are also interested in receiving political-style cartoons on the topic. Cartoons should be drawn on posterboard.
Students should submit their responses by Oct. 15 with name, age, grade and school included on the work. We will publish selected responses in the Oct. 25 edition of the District Weekly.