Controversy over a high school senior, the periodic table, the 1999 hit “Back That Azz Up” by rapper Juvenile, and a Georgia high school yearbook reached a head Tuesday after a student used periodic elements to spell out a funny message in her yearbook quote.
Paris Gray, the senior class vice president at Mundy’s Mill High School in Clayton County, Ga., wrote, “When the going gets tough just remember to Barium, Carbon, Potassium, Thorium, Astatine, Arsenic, Sulfer (sic), Utranium (sic), Phospheros (sic).” When you find the elements on the periodic table and connect them, the message reads: “When the going gets tough, just remember to back that ass up,” WSB-TV Atlanta reports.
Pretty creative and harmless, right? School officials didn’t think so.
Once school staffers decoded the message, they came down hard on Gray. According to the news station, Gray was given in-school suspension, banned from last week’s senior walk and officials threatened to ban her from the graduation ceremony during which Gray was scheduled to give a speech.
Gray said that her message wasn’t intended to offend but inspire.
“Basically, it was me just saying, ‘Start all over again,'” Gray told the news station. “You have to go back and start all over.”
“I think their reaction was beyond what it should have been because nobody understood it,” Gray said. “It just completely destroyed me, and my mom’s been telling me don’t let it ruin my happiness, but it’s like really taking a big toll.”
Gray’s mother, Zarinah Woods, probably had the best reaction upon hearing the message created from scientific elements.
“My first reaction was, ‘You are such a nerd,'” she told the news station.