BIGELOW, Ark. (KARK) – Yearbooks are meant to represent the ups and downs of a school year. But for those in Bigelow schools, students receiving a copy of this year’s book found two missing pages; torn apart by members of the school district.
Many parents have expressed frustration with the deletion on social media, calling it censorship by the school.
The two pages that had been torn off represented a chronology of the events of this past school year, ’20 -’21.
As part of the yearbook class, the students compiled the events and designed the broadcast themselves.
Madison Johnston took her final semester class at Bigelow High School last spring. She helped with the timeline and worked on a series of pages for school sports teams.
“I would always look forward to this class just because it was so much fun,” Johnston recalls.
But when the students started to collect their yearbooks, they noticed that some pages seemed to be missing. “You could just see a little line where someone had physically torn up the pages,” Johnston explained.
The timeline included on these pages depicts major events such as the 2020 election, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Johnston says the timeline took the longest time working on everything in the yearbook.
A few copies escaped with intact pages, those recovered on the first day of the directory’s sales. The rest were damaged after some in the community felt the timeline was too political and shouldn’t have been included in the book. The backlash is what led to the decision to take the pages off completely.
“A group of parents complained that it was biased,” said Johnston. She says she didn’t know the pages had been torn off until a few days later, when a friend told her about it.
She adds that the events included had been verified three times before being published. and everyone had approved the broadcast before it went to print. Johnston thinks a deletion is a form of censorship, saying “they are censoring something that is fact”.
The removal of the pages also damaged the binding of many student directories, a $ 65 item that had to be prepaid. Johnston says she would like students and parents to be reimbursed for the books, or for the yearbooks to be reprinted with each page included.
The East End School District superintendent had been contacted for comment, but has not yet responded.