EDITOR’S NOTE — Last week, the Daily Leader reported on changes to the Mirage Yearbook from the faculty’s point of view. Today, we look at the changes from the students’ perspective. So that the students are not exposed to reprisals from staff, their names have been modified.
By EARL WATT
• Daily Leader
With about 250 seniors looking to graduate this year at Liberal High School, there is always a challenge to stand out, to be different, to be an individual.
But these seniors will be forever remembered in their yearbook as looking the same as everyone else.
For the first time in school history, the seniors will not be featured in the regular section of class pictures with their senior portrait.
Instead, all the boys will have the same uniform, and the girls will have a frilly boa on a low-cut frontal shot.
“It is inappropriate dress for a picture,” one senior girl said. “This would not even pass the school dress code.”
Many in the senior class felt the pictures were uncomfortable to take, and it is not how they want to be remembered for their senior year.
From the freshmen to the juniors, those photos will show students in their everyday school clothes, or in clothes they chose for their school picture.
But not the seniors.
“They say they are making the change to win awards,” a senior said. “Who cares about winning awards if no one wants the yearbook? The main thing is this is how we will be remembered. Seniors take pictures with the things that define them, and now those pictures won’t be in the photo section of the yearbook.”
If a senior wants to place their senior picture in the yearbook they have to pay $30 for an ad and have their picture placed at the back of the book, not in the front section with the rest of the student pictures.
“They said seniors always paid $30 to have their pictures in the yearbook,” a senior said. “I talked to other seniors and they never had to pay unless they were late turning it in.”
The process for placing the senior pictures in the yearbook is relatively simple. The picture is scanned, placed on a page, and the senior’s name placed under it. There is basically no labor savings by having all the seniors take an identical photo.
“No other class wears matching clothes,” a senior said. “When they decided to do this, they didn’t make it known until a month before pictures were due. They said we were ‘misinformed’ and ‘couldn’t do the math.’ But they wouldn’t listen to students. They just said, ‘We’re doing it.’ This affects a lot of people.”
For this senior class, change out of their control seems to be the norm. Their graduation is being moved to Redskin Field, but also to Saturday morning when graduation has traditionally taken place on Sunday afternoon.
“Everything is being changed,” a senior said. “Tradition doesn’t mean anything here anymore. We are supposed to be seniors. Many of us are already adults, and they treat us like little children. They won’t listen to our ideas or concerns at all. We have no say in our own school or even how our pictures will appear in the yearbook. We just want them to stay the same.”
School officials have stated that the policy in the past of having those who did not turn in a senior picture use their cap and gown picture was unfair to those students, giving the appearance that they were poor.
“I never thought that,” a senior said. “They just didn’t want to buy senior pictures. That was their choice. Where is our choice? Because they didn’t want senior pictures, now none of us can have them. No one said they had to be professionally made. Have a friend take a picture. Use that.”
When the conformity photos were taken, seniors were allowed to bring props if they chose, but at an additional cost.
“And who is going to do that?” one senior asked. “It’s not going to get into the yearbook, anyway.”
The seniors wanted to have a vote rather than have the lone senior on the yearbook staff make the decision for the entire class.
“Your senior picture describes you,” a senior said. “It shows your personality. It means something to you. Why conform to win an award? At band contests, it’s not the bands that do the same things that win. It’s the band that stands out, that does something different. I won’t remember if our yearbook wins any awards, but I will always remember my senior picture.”
If nothing else, these students have learned the democratic process, and since seniors make up a large majority of those who buy the yearbook, as customers they feel they should have some input in the product they are being asked to purchase.
“The yearbook sponsor has freedom of the press, but we have freedom of speech,” one senior said. “If Congress does something that affects a large number of people, they vote. Here, they just tell us what we’re going to get and how we’re going to get it. It makes no sense. It is our yearbook.”
Some students have talked to faculty about the issue but have had no results.
“The teachers are being more immature about this than the students,” a senior said. “They won’t listen to us or give our concerns any value. We’re not asking for anything ridiculous. We just want our senior pictures in the regular part of the yearbook. It’s not too late to fix this.”
If the change occurs this year, it will undoubtedly remain for all classes to follow.
To discuss this issue, contact Liberal High School at 604-1200.