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Stop The Presses! People In H.S. Drink!

There’s a tempest in a teapot brewing at New Trier Township High School, located a little over 22 miles north of Chicago along Lake Michigan. In the newly published senior yearbook for the class of 2009, apparently somebody slipped in an unauthorized photo of two girls hugging. But look closer and you can just barely see — gasp — a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon held behind the back of one of the girls.

Oh, the humanity. You’d think they just witnessed a murder to see the hue and cry this “incident” has caused. The local news is painting the story as if a serious crime had been committed. Talk about overreacting. Sheesh. There are even discussions in the press about the contrast in photo quality between the offending snapshot and other more professional looking photos found elsewhere in the yearbook. Geez, it’s the smoking photo, the Zapruder picture. “School spokeswoman Laura Blair told the Chicago Tribune that the photo was not in the yearbook when the adviser cleared it for publication, indicating someone sneaked it in afterwards. Blair says ‘it’s clearly defiant and subversive and intentional.'” Really, it’s clearly intentional? I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to imagine focusing on the girls’ faces and not even noticing the can at all.

From an article on the website of Chicago NBC affiliate:

“Clearly, the content of the picture and its inclusion in the yearbook are contrary to our principles and values as a school community. Administrators are investigating how and why the inappropriate picture was included, and we will take appropriate disciplinary action when we find the responsible individuals,” said Supt. Lina Yonke of the New Trier Township High School District. Possible consequences for the students involved could range from a school suspension to charges of underage possession of alcohol.

“Contrary to our principles and values as a school community,” what does that even mean? If teenagers drink — and obviously they do — isn’t that a part of the true values of the school community? In another story, the superintendent told a reporter it essentially ruined the whole yearbook. Really? It’s as if the school officials just discovered that the little angels in their charge might not be exactly as obedient and subservient as they believed, I guess preferring the fantasy that the kids in their school never did anything they weren’t supposed to do. For them, I have tell them that teenagers do drink, sorry to burst your bubble. It’s hardly newsworthy.

At least one Chicago Tribune columnist was able to keep it in perspective. Eric Zorn wrote a short piece, entitled Memo to New Trier High School administrators: Chill, concluding, “I have an idea: How about a wag of the finger and a reproachful shake of the head? They deserve it and so, actually, do you.”

But this story is all over the internet, especially in the local area. It must have been a very slow news day. But this is also a prime example of how the media overplays covering alcohol in society. A non-story is turned into a media circus. There was another photo also “sneaked” into the yearbook of a student shooting the finger, but that barely got a mention in only a fraction of the total stories on this incident.


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