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Yearbook talks could shape new norms

Earlier this week, the Park Rapids Enterprise released a story about how some Menahga students and parents are unhappy that their school administrators excluded certain photos from the school's yearbook.

According to the article, one student wanted to have her baby included in her senior photo and other students wanted to reserve a memorial page for Kyle Kenyon, who committed suicide last January.

In the story, Peggy Havnes, Kyle's mother, said, "I really think the yearbook should be up to the kids and include what they want."

With all this in mind, there are a few things I would like to comment on.

First, I understand why people would be upset that their school is censoring a book that reflects student accomplishment, memories and overall creativity. I also feel that it's important for kids to be given the opportunity to have a say in such a publication. It helps them be more inclined to pursue innovation and exceed professional expectations in future years.

However, it is also necessary to keep in mind that while it can be beneficial to give students free rein on a project such as a school yearbook, there needs to be adults overseeing certain activities.

When I was in high school, there was a yearbook committee made up of a handful of students and one student advisor. The student advisor was there mostly to answer the students' questions and provide encouragement, but to also make sure the book's contents were in the best interest of the entire school's well-being.

Censorship from school administrations is necessary. Without it, creative control requested by the young men and women of our high schools could result in the acceptance of new and unhealthy norms.

To be more specific, if students are allowed to have babies in their senior pictures, other students might become more accepting and susceptible to the idea of high school pregnancies. Plus, I'm sure schools proudly display senior pictures with the hope of keeping the main focus on the person who will actually be graduating.

I think it's safe to say that kids these days are easily swayed by the TV shows they watch, the music they listen to and the magazines they read. Is a school yearbook really all that different? If a yearbook helps a student think that getting pregnant in high school is acceptable, what's to stop them from acting on those thoughts?

Then again, some examples are easier to analyze than others.

In the case of Kyle Kenyon, I completely understand why parents and the Menahga student body would be compelled to show their respects. Really, it's quite admirable that these individuals have pulled together to honor the memory of one individual.

But isn't it also admirable to consider the protection of hundreds of young individuals?

It's no secret that suicide is a topic schools take seriously. I doubt any education professional would be against honoring a fallen student, but I can understand why they would want it kept out of a school yearbook.

It all comes down to protection.

Like I said before, kids are easily influenced. It's not that schools view the publicized dedication of a suicide victim as contemptible; but rather, they see it as an unnecessary medium that could possibly make students feel like suicide is a reasonable solution to life's troubles.