Administrators at H.D. Woodson High School in Northeast Washington have sought to calm parents' fears after the school's student newspaper published an anonymous article promising "miles and miles of yellow tape and hallways filled with tears."
Woodson Principal Edwin C. Jones said the article, headlined "Bent on Revenge: What have I become?," was an "imaginative, fictionalized account" written by an 11th-grade student. He made that point in a letter sent home to parents, in announcements over the school intercom and at a meeting last night of Woodson's Parent Teacher Student Association.
"The whole idea was to counteract bullying," Jones said yesterday. "I guess it got creative, and we did not put a disclaimer on top of the article."
The article appeared on Page 8 of Woodson's "The Insider" and was distributed Jan. 11. Accompanying the article was a cartoon that showed a girl wearing a straitjacket and lying on the floor of a padded cell.
"Kids are the most ruthless, supernaturally cruelest pople [sic] in the world," the piece began. "I mean they push you to the limit where you either end it all or get even."
The author goes on to describe how his or her life was ruined by bullying, says that it is "too late" for apologies and talks about a list of people who "better run and hide because I just can't let it go."
"When I finally decide to make my move, they'd [sic] wish they'd left me alone," the article says. "Their mothers will cry for years and years when they see what I have done. When I'm done with this place, there will be miles and miles of yellow tape and hallways filled with tears."
In a note at the end of the article, the paper said the writer's name was being withheld "at his/her request." Underneath the article, the paper offered tips on how to respond to bullying.
Jones said numerous parents complained about the piece.
"This is what got me: that they let it be printed in the paper," said the grandparent of one Woodson student, who agreed to be interviewed on the condition that her name be withheld. "It was just appalling to me."
Jones said a disclaimer that the article was fiction had been left out inadvertently in the rush to publish the newspaper.
He said that he has since spoken with the student who wrote the piece and that she told him she was inspired by movies and television, including the 2002 TV movie "Bang, Bang, You're Dead," about an alienated high school student.
In the future, Jones said, articles in the student paper will be reviewed by a panel of teachers before publication.