Monday, October 2, 2023 Oct 2, 2023
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Anonymous Strikes at Highland Park High

By D Magazine |

“I FIND IT INCREDibly sexy when a guy hits me or tells me what to do. This is my biggest turn-on.” So reads an anonymous quote attributed to a female Highland Park High School senior in the school’s 1996 yearbook, The Highlander. The section in which it appears, “Controversy: Not Approved,” contains student comments and survey results on drug use, drinking, violence, academic cheating and sexuality. And it has drawn flak from parents who say the book is a slap in the face of community standards.

“The students wanted to make a section that would depict what students are talking about and doing,” says Liz Vint, an HPHS graduate who contributed to the section. “Just because it doesn’t follow the community’s values doesn’t mean it’s not true.”

But HPHS principal jean Rutherford sees things a bit differently, After receiving several complaints, Rutherford fired off a letter to parents stating that “The response from callers and faculty has been the same-the material was distasteful and inappropriate and had no place in the school annual.” She outlined several changes for future yearbooks including a prohibition against anonymous quotes, tighter survey standards, and the formation of an editorial board consisting of school officials for the purpose of “prior review.”

Rutherford, who has already met with students to discuss the next yearbook, says she made the changes after receiving student reports that some of the most provocative anonymous quotes in the section were actually spliced together using comments from more than one source. “I have big problems with the meth-ods and the process used,” she says. “Anything that is going to draw that much concern, you had better be able to show how you’ve done it and that it is legitimate.”

“I really don’t think that [Jean Rutherford] should be reviewing it,” Vint says. “They’re censoring to what the community wants to sec and not allowing what’s the reality.” -Mark Stuertz