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Youth Culture Lesson Finding Teachable Moments in Culture From YouthWorker Journal and YouthWorker.com. Judging a Book … Virginia High School Yearbook Stirs Controversy. By Paul Asay Posted: May 24, 2010. What Happened:.

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Youth culture lesson finding teachable moments in culture from youthworker journal and youthworker com

Youth Culture LessonFinding Teachable Moments in CultureFrom YouthWorker Journal and YouthWorker.com

Judging a Book …

Virginia High School Yearbook Stirs Controversy

By Paul Asay

Posted: May 24, 2010


What happened

What Happened:

Books often are intended to provoke thought, discussion … even controversy. However, those guidelines usually don’t pertain to high school yearbooks, which are supposed to be filled with pictures of classmates, highlights from the school year and signatures from your friends.


What happened1

What Happened:

Maybe that’s why this year’s annual from Massaponax (Va.) High School has caused such a stir.


What happened2

What Happened:

Throughout the school year, students who worked on the yearbook encouraged their classmates to submit anonymous “Ponax Confessions” — confessions the staff promised would be published in the yearbook.


What happened3

What Happened:

Many of the so-called confessions were just dumb or silly; but others were shocking, disturbing and downright sad. Some examples:

  • “I have sex with people just to feel wanted.”

  • “I had an abortion, and my mom doesn’t know.”

  • “I once did so much pot that I woke up high.”

  • “I’m pregnant with my best friend’s boyfriend’s kid.”


What happened4

What Happened:

There’s no way of telling which “confessions” are true, really; but that didn’t matter to many parents, who noted the yearbook had other problems, too, such as student quotes that were filled with sexual allusions and double entendres. They were already on edge after the 2009 yearbook featured depictions of an “unclad” woman and someone who appeared to be smoking crack.


What happened5

What Happened:

“I was appalled, and I’m not a prude,” one mother told Fredricksburg.com, regarding this year’s annual. “I know what kids do. There’s no pictures of the football team or of JV field hockey, but there’s plenty of sex and drugs.”

“When I looked through the book, I was livid,” said another. “A lot of us thought there should have been a discussion last year, and now this.”


What happened6

What Happened:

Massaponax Principal Joe Rodkey is trying to recall the yearbooks and have the entire run reprinted. “It’s totally inappropriate for a high school yearbook,” he said. “The students, the school and this community deserve a better yearbook than what I have.”


Talk about it

Talk About It:

Rodkey said the yearbook had the potential to be “an award-winning book; but then you see the sexual innuendo and double entendre—it puts the focus on something negative.”

  • What is the role of a yearbook?

  • Is it like a trophy case, where the school’s presented in the best possible light?

  • Or should it be more like a diary, where anything and everything goes?


Talk about it1

Talk About It:

The Massaponax yearbook, like most yearbooks, is a student-run publication with a teacher/advisor. For the most part, the students decide the content.

  • In this case, do you think there should’ve been more adult oversight?

  • Is this an experience for the students to learn from their mistakes?

  • Or did the principal make a mistake by recalling the books?


Talk about it2

Talk About It:

  • Do you believe that most of Massaponax’s “confessions” were true?

  • What were students trying to achieve by sharing them in the yearbook?

  • Shock people?

  • Get something off their chests?

  • Get help?


Talk about it3

Talk About It:

  • Do you have secrets?

  • Do you share them with anyone?

  • When you “confess” something, how does it make you feel?


What the bible says

What the Bible Says:

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Phil. 4:8


What the bible says1

“… confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

James 5:16

“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.”

Prov. 11:13

What the Bible Says:


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