Parents Upset “Bully” Gets Yearbook Nod

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The story in Babble: Two More Yearbook Fails

The story on Fox 5 News:

Mamaroneck Yearbook’s ‘Most Feared’ Award: MyFoxNY.com

 

 

At a time when school bullying has become an issue of concern across the country, several parents have written us concerned about a distinction given one Senior in the Mamaroneck High School yearbook. He was voted “Most Feared by Freshmen”

A cartoon, below, appears in the new MHS yearbook, depicting him holding a dismembered head and hand.

A special meeting is called for Friday at the High School to address the situation with school officials.

 

 

 

(photo retouched by theLoop)

The following letter was sent by an MHS parent who asked to remain anonymous.

To the Editor:

We have disintegrated to such a state that the inmates are running the asylum.  The student voted “Most Feared by Freshman” seems to also instill fear in school administration, teachers and parents.  The race is on for next year’s contenders for this exalted title to out beat, out taunt and out terrorize the younger students.  Are teachers and administrators looking over or overlooking their responsibilities?

Who deserves to be safe? The teachers and administrators in their jobs?

By not acknowledging the problem of hazing, and ignoring any parent who dares to raise the issue, they save their jobs, are reinstated under false pretenses and live happily ever after.

Or the students?  At least they have last year’s biggest bully identified in the school-sanctioned yearbook, but what about next year?  Who will out do this year’s terrorist?  Is  student safety to be sacrificed for job security for staff paid by tax-payer money?

Anyone know the answer?

—  Anonymous

 

After we inquired, the School District, in a letter to parents from Dr. Shaps, responded:

Dear Parents:

It has been called to our attention that an inappropriate photo and artist rendering – along with a caption with the words “Freshman’s Worst Nightmare: Fear Factor” – is included in the senior superlative section of this year’s yearbook.  This item contradicts the clear message our district has been sending throughout the year that bullying will not be tolerated.

Indeed, addressing the problem of hazing or having upperclassmen bully freshmen is central to our effort to promote a safe learning environment and positive interactions among students.  As a district, we have acted on numerous fronts to confront inappropriate upperclassmen behavior:

–           In the fall, our high school guidance counselors visited every single class at every grade level early in the school year to discuss the issues of hazing, bullying and cyber-bullying.

–           We’ve encouraged our own staff members, including teachers, coaches and administrators, to regularly discuss these issues with students and let them know that bullying will not be tolerated.

–           We’ve invited outside speakers to conduct two one-hour assemblies this year (one with freshman and sophomore students and one with upperclassmen) focused on bullying.

–           Our interim principal John Goetz sent out an automated message to all parents the evening before what’s traditionally known as “Freshman Friday” to speak out against this topic.

–           Our student Caprice Advisers also help us to reiterate anti-bullying messages.

In addition to district-wide measures, we partner with our local police departments to investigate any incidents that are called to our attention and take appropriate action.

Moving forward, we will ensure that the faculty adviser of the yearbook conducts a thorough review of each page so that the yearbook’s content is consistent with the District’s code of conduct/beliefs and there are no offensive photos or statements suggesting we condone inappropriate behavior.  We will of course continue to work with faculty to educate students and parents around bullying issues and encourage parents to reinforce the seriousness of bullying, including hazing, in and outside of school.

We recognize that tackling theses issues is challenging and complex.  Therefore, we ask that students, parents, educators and law enforcement work together toward the common goal of eliminating bullying from our schools and community.

Sincerely,

Dr. Robert I. Shaps
Superintendent of Schools

 

Look for this story tonight (June 17) on Fox 5 at Ten.

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Parents Upset “Bully” Gets Yearbook Nod

  1. lifelonglarchmonter, I’m not doubting your account of your years in the system, but take note– today’s administration is different. As a student at MHS, I can tell you that the administration’s focus on bullying and hazing (especially when it comes to “freshman friday”) is strict, especially after the media put a spotlight on the issue this past year. “Coddling” bullies is hardly the problem. Student groups such as Caprice and Peer Leaders devote a significant amount of time to educating younger grades about the realities of hazing at MHS, in all its forms. The message? High school is difficult, but you have a support system that is designed to keep you safe and comfortable. Use it. Parents, tell your kids to use it. Don’t try to fight their battles for them, but instead provide them the knowledge and tools they need to survive in a world where not everyone is nice. Writing letters won’t work forever. I have the utmost respect for the way our school has handled this situation, and I agree with much of what has already been said in previous comments.
    As a sidenote, I would confirm that the information you have regarding said beating is valid, because that is an incredibly serious accusation. If such an incident occurred and the parents followed an appropriate course of action, the residents of Larchmont/Mamaroneck and the school board would certainly have been notified of such a threat.

  2. The coddling of these children has to stop; we are not doing them any favors.
    Hazing is running across the football field in your underwear, not beating someone into unconsciousness.

  3. It seems to me that these comments are missing the point. A school sanctioned publication that glorifies bullying of any kind is a mistake. Clearly this mistake was recognized by the school administration and they have made an attempt to rectify. That is honorable.

  4. The “Freshman’s Worst Nightmare” has been a Mamaroneck superlative for ages. Although I personally do not view the superlative as a threat to students’ safety, I understand some do not appreciate what it stands for. However, an appropriate response would be omitting the superlative in 2012. It is inappropriate to tag the superlative’s recipient as a terrorist and to accuse the teachers of overlooking bullying out of fear. The administration and students alike have begun many anti-bullying initiatives, and the yearbook’s superlatives were all created in jest. The recipient is a genuinely nice person and is the victim of a misdirected personal attack. The drawing of a severed freshman head and hand were drawn in keeping with the theme of the superlatives-reality television, and the yearbook staff did not view it as threatening. If parents do not support the superlative, it can be omitted from next year’s yearbook. However, I am disappointed by the fact that some thought public humiliation to be the solution.

  5. I totally agree with highschoolstudent. Unless you know these kids, a knee jerk reaction like this parent’s is ridiculous and harmful. Using the word ‘terrorist’ for a yearbook page that has been part of the school culture for years is more than extreme, it’s defamatory. Do you know this boy? In fact, do you know anything about MHS’s students? I doubt it, because if you did, you’d know that this school and these kids have done more than many national high schools to work on bullying. Didn’t this parent ever attend high school?! I’d wager things were wayyy worse for freshmen back in their day. I remember climbing up to the third floor of my school with some seniors books on my back. Wow, it was awful – and the coolest thing ever. Take a breath, parents, and step back. High school isn’t preschool – they need to learn how group dynamics work, and how to survive. Sometimes people are nice to you, and sometimes they aren’t. Granted, persecution is a whole other matter – but this yearbook page is so far removed from that as to render the argument ludicrous. You have nothing to fear from MHS students, and if you do run into trouble, you won’t find a more responsible administration. Get over your entitled and overprotective self, and let your kids learn to navigate the real world. Trust me, having had several go through MHS, and having had them spend some time in other nat’l high schools, you’re in the lap of human kindness here. It’s a YEARBOOK, for heaven’s sake – didn’t you go to high school?!

  6. Terrorist? Wow, way to inject extreme hyperbole in to your over-the-top rant. Looks like your kid is never going to overcome the bullies if you can’t even muster the courage to name specific incidents or identify yourself.

  7. i think this is absolutely ridiculous. “freshman’s worst nightmare” has been a superlative in the yearbook for years now. the picture is obviously an exaggeration, no one is that violent. i understand the concerns of parents, but hazing has been a high school tradition for a very long time. i was hazed and my friends and i thought it was fun and we felt as though we were officially initiated into the school.
    i also happen to know the senior who got the superlative of “freshman’s worst nightmare” this year and he is a really nice guy. to refer to him as a terrorist is absurd, and any adult saying that about a high school student should be ashamed. calling someone a terrorist is a form of bullying as well. this boy is now angry and embarrassed because, yes, he saw what was written about him. you accuse him of “terrorizing” the younger students, but anyone could just as easily say that he is now the victim. i think this whole thing has been taken way too far. the senior superlatives have always been something fun for the senior class, and now it is being ruined by a parent concerned about a student who is leaving for college soon. tell me, is it fair to now speak poorly of this boy? i don’t think so.

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