A Missouri high school yearbook is sparking controversy for detailing student participation in sex, drugs and alcohol.
“You start flipping through, and it’s really nice — you see the swim team and the basketball team, and all their accomplishments. … then you turn the page,” Nicki Walker, a parent of an eighth grader who often interacts with Kirkwood High School students, told TODAY.com.
She was “horrified” to see photos of vape pods and beer among survey answers describing students’ poison of choice.
One page titled “Hooked(ish)” features opinions from students about “hook-up culture, the concept of a casual sexual relationship without labels, and its benefits and consequences.”
Adorned with images of Plan-B One-Step, pregnancy tests, condoms and more, the spread is chalk-full of survey responses from anonymous students about the “weirdest” places they have hooked up: A football field, a dressing room, and even a “bowling alley parking lot in the backseat of someone else’s car.”
“What kind of sicko is allowing this sort of stuff to be published?” the aghast Walker exclaimed, calling this year’s memento “sensational and classless.”
“The Pioneer” has won a slew of awards in recent years.
“School officials do not engage in prior review of the yearbook,” a district spokesperson told TODAY.com. “The content of KHS Media is determined by and reflects only the views of the student staff and not school officials or the school itself.”
The yearbook’s editor-in-chief, Avery Oppermann, thanked the school’s principal, Dr. Mike Havener, and yearbook adviser, Mitch Eden, for allowing students to use their “voices for good.”
Many viewers applauded the students for their hutzpah, calling the work “iconic” and “fantastic.”
On Instagram, the official Kirkwood Pioneer Yearbook account stated it is “proud” of what the staff accomplished, expressing gratitude for the ability to publish what it sees as relevant and true.
But on Facebook, dismayed parents sang a different tune — they denounced the “glorification” and “glamorization” of “sexual promiscuity” that riddles the pages.
Kerri Tumminello Fenton wrote, in part, that the yearbook “normalized this very unhealthy lifestyle of exploiting your ‘body count’ and pretending like it’s nothing at all, like they don’t look in the mirror and feel shame.”
“They’ve traded their souls for a life of lust, and the uptick in this continued behavior is inevitable,” she added, calling the behavior “disturbing.”
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