If you’re one of the lucky souls who purchased an original printing of the 2018-2019 Oak Park and River Forest High School yearbook, you’ve been treated to as many as 18 photographs featuring hand gestures associated with white nationalism. Because kids
say do the darnedest things.
However, the Chicago Sun Times reports that administrators are embarrassed by this behavior (for some peculiar reason) and have decided to reprint the yearbooks in question because it makes “not all white people!” a little more believable during the parent-teacher conferences.
Oak Park and River Forest High School will reprint its 2018-19 yearbook because some photos show students making a hand gesture sometimes associated with white nationalism, the district’s board of education decided Monday night.
Reprinting 1,750 copies of “Tabula” will cost $53,794.
The upside-down “OK” appeared in 18 photographs of clubs or teams and was made by students of “various races, ethnicities, genders and grades,” said Supt. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams, offering new details about the controversy in an email to parents, students and staff Monday night after the board’s vote.
“The photos in question, as well as other club/team photos in which students are striking poses and making gestures, will be replaced with straight-forward group shots,” Pruitt-Adams wrote. “While putting stickers over the photos would be a cheaper solution, it would draw attention to particular groups of students and place a cloud of suspicion over all the students in those photos, regardless of whether they used the sign or not.”
But everyone isn’t on board with the plan.
Matt Baron, a District 200 board member, revealed in a Facebook post that he voted against the decision to reprint the yearbooks.
“One of my biggest concerns: that if we toss out these 1,750 Tabulas, rather than come to the thoughtful conclusion that they should still be distributed, we are playing right into the hands of all the haters whose evil is at the root of this corrosive and divisive angst—and worse—that we are experiencing,” he wrote.
School officials confirmed that they had yet to speak to the students responsible for the hand gestures and declined to discuss disciplinary action.
“Those pages were reviewed and shipped to the printer in early December, before the gesture was widely known to have any association with white nationalism,” Pruitt-Adams said. “I want to be clear that we are not making any presumptions about students’ intent in using the gesture.”
For seniors, the last day of school is Friday. So since the yearbooks will take three to four weeks to reprint, students have been provided eight pages of blank space to collect signatures that can be attached to their yearbooks when they arrive.