Courting Controversy: Yearbooks Causing a Stir in 2014

Some yearbooks have already created quite a stir this year.
Photo credit: Flickr CC user llssy8


“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

They say the pen is mightier than the sword, and over time this has proven to be true. If words didn’t matter, why would library books still be getting banned in 2014?

Throughout history, people have been able to start or stop wars with a few swift strokes of a pen – or raise some eyebrows at their high schools. Today we’ll look at some students and administrators who decided to push the envelope with their yearbooks in 2014, leading to national (and worldwide) attention for their yearbooks and schools.

Check out these high school rebel rousers who kicked up some controversy this year. Do you think people are overreacting or did the yearbook staff overstep their bounds? You be the judge:

1. Back in May, a high school in Mesa, Arizona, caused quite a stir with its two-page spread devoted to teen moms, dads, and expectant parents. Titled, “I’m Working a Double Shift,” the story highlighted the hardships and obstacles teen parents face. Parents of students (who apparently have never seen an episode of 16 and Pregnant) bombarded the school with concerned phone calls and complaints. However, the school stands by its decision to feature these unique members of their student body.

2. Students in Portales, New Mexico, were surprised this year when they opened their yearbooks and found a spread of two naked classmates smiling back at them. Voted ‘Most Likely to Go Skinny Dipping,” the senior superlative left most students rolling their eyes instead of laughing. School principal Garrick Matthews says they can’t change the spread this time but will be more conscience of spreads like these in future yearbooks and how they reflect the school.

3. Meanwhile, a high school in Utah was put under fire when it was uncovered that the yearbook staff had airbrushed students’ photos that didn’t meet the dress code standards. The conservative community added sleeves, necklines, and even covered one girl’s tattoos to make it more “yearbook appropriate.” No male student had their photos altered. In a statement, school officials said, “Students were advised that photos may be edited if the student’s dress did not follow the dress code.”

4. A history teacher in Brentwood, California, named Spencer Smith, sparked controversy when he decided to pose as slain teenager, Trayvon Martin, for his staff photo. Wearing a hoodie and holding a bag of Skittles, the photo did not go over well with the entire student body. “This is supposed to be capturing the best moments of the year. And all positive things,” an anonymous mother told The Huffington Post. Smith could not be reached for comment.

There are still a few months left in 2014 so it will be interesting to see what yearbook stunt will raise eyebrows next. Has something in your past yearbook ever created a stir? What was it, and how was it handled? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment box below.