It seems the era of encouraging civic duty from students has ended.
The end of the high school year carries numerous traditions; from prom, to promises to call over the summer. Another pre-matriculation institution is the yearbook. Students normally get to present themselves in wildly expressive fashion that is designed to display their burgeoning personality — as well as providing embarrassing fodder in their adulthood.
Except in one New Jersey school there seems to be resistance of a political bent. When the yearbooks were delivered to students at Wall Township High school a number of students found their inclusion to the annual had been edited without permission. Three separate students realized that they had content truncated in reference to Trump.
“This was purposeful, and it’s wrong,” stated Janet Dobrovich-Fago. Her daughter, Montana, is the freshman class President, as she was bidden to include with her entry a famous quote. Her selection was from our newest President however, as the books arrived, her supplied quote was not included. All other class Presidents were displayed with their submitted quotes. A policy against politics could not be the cause given another student offered up words from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and those made it into print. Then it was discovered there were also photographs that bore alterations of a similar fashion.
Montana’s brother, Wyatt, had worn a sweater with the Trump logo for picture day. Once the yearbooks were distributed they discovered his photo had been cropped so the logo was no longer visible. Once they began to voice their curiosity it was discovered a junior, Grant Berardo, had also worn a Trump shirt. Grant’s attire had a far more prominent display of the “Make America Great Again” catch phrase. Unable to effectively reframe the shot to bypass the visual Grant’s navy blue shirt had been converted to all black via Photoshop to obscure the logo entirely.
There cannot be an excuse made that there was a policy against iconography. Other students throughout the yearbook can be seen wearing apparel that displayed musical acts or brand names featured .
Once confronted with the concerted effort to delete The Donald school officials had no answers.
- Wall superintendent Cheryl Dyer sent a letter out to parents after the story appeared in this space Friday afternoon, saying she was “investigating an allegation of censorship and the possible violation of First Amendment rights in the high school yearbook this year. There is nothing in our student dress code that would prevent a student from expressing his or her political views and support for a candidate for political office via appropriate clothing. The high school administration was not aware of and does not condone any censorship of political views on the part of our students … The actions of the staff involved will be addressed as soon as the investigation is concluded.”
Grant’s father echoed what Mrs. Dobrovich-Fago reflected.
- The other parent who complained was Joe Berardo, who also isn’t happy that his son’s picture was censored. “I don’t like the way we have to tip-toe around political correctness,” he said. “It gets in the way of meaningful discourse. And, frankly, I hate being on the other side of it now.”
In light of this rather blatant targeted censorship the superintendent is offering bureaucratic balloon-juice. The parents meanwhile are accusing censorship. They are also calling for the district to reissue corrected yearbooks.