Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Back to yearbook camp, Mr. Runyon

Now that the Kettle's prom chaperoning and graduation ushering are behind us, I think its due time that we chat about high school yearbooks. It is somewhat of a tradition here at the Pot and Kettle for the Pot to closely examine IMKA's (the illustrious academy at which the Kettle teaches) yearbook each spring. It begins with a look through the faculty pictures to see who gained weight, lost hair and forgot to smile. It quickly moves through the senior superlatives, the clubs and into the senior portrait pages, where most of the viewing time is spent. We have to discuss the cute students, the nice students, the assholes, the smart kids, the jocks (as well as the jockish, if any) and most importantly seek out anyone with a reference to the Golden Girls, Cher or Madonna in their lengthy (and I mean lengthy) written submission.

It is these lengthy writings -- a full yearbook page (not merely an 8.5x11 sheet of paper) for each student -- that draw much of my joy and a lot more of my ire. I will admit, most of my joy comes at the expense of others. But some of it also happens to come when a seemingly nice kid thanks his parents, says a few other nice words and ends it without making it seem as if he or she is authoring an autobiographical obituary at the age of 17. I also feel great joy when the Kettle gets a shout out.

I've hinted where most of my anger comes from. Yep, its those full page, 9 million word essays on life that these high school seniors seem to think are necessary and appropriate. I don't mind the sappy thanks to mom and dad and little sis and to some friends who they have shared their entire school career with thus far. I can even stomach (sometimes) the ridiculous comments from fake blondes about how they promise to stay in touch with 37 of their closest friends forever, giving each top billing on their cell phone speed dial for life. We all know that post-high school, you drop 97.9% of the people you knew then for various reasons (of which I won't discuss). But what I can't handle at all, not even for a minute, not even at all, are the long disserations on how special and significant every person, from mom and dad to the employees at McDonalds who spend countless hours making Egg McMuffins, is and how those people touched your life, mentored you, showed you how to be a good vegetarian and taught you the meaning of life form home and even places as far away as New Haven. COME ON, Sponge! You're 17. You don't have that much to write, you haven't experienced enough to make it worthwhile and all you've done is put into words the exact reason why most people didn't really like you all that much.

So, in an effort to curb my yearbook hostility, I propose that each student be given not more than half of one yearbook page -- still way more than necessary -- to say what they want to say. If someone will please make this motion at Yearbook Camp, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Oh, and a lesson to all yearbook advisors, nix all the Hitler quotes:

Two high school seniors picked quotations from Adolf Hitler's book "Mein Kampf" to appear under their high school yearbook pictures, prompting an apology from school officials.

"It's our responsibility and we failed miserably," said Northport High School principal Irene McLaughlin. "The fact that the book went out in the form it did was a grave mistake on our part."

The quotes picked by Christopher Koulermos and Philip Compton, both 18, were attributed to Hitler in the yearbook. Koulermos' read "Strength lies not in defense, but in attack." Compton chose "The great masses of people ... will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one."

Compton's father, Steven, said Monday that his son meant no harm in picking the quote.

"I guess he didn't seriously consider the source; he was more interested in the quote," he said. "He's a child."

McLaughlin and superintendent William Brosnan said the yearbook's student staff and its adviser, teacher Robert Runyan, saw the quotations before they were published.

Brosnan said that while the school district has no formal policy for reviewing quotations from seniors, common sense dictated that the Hitler quotes should have been run by administrators before they were published.


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