Ottawa

Lewd content snuck into high school yearbooks

Hundreds of yearbooks at a high school in Ottawa's Barrhaven neighbourhood are being hastily censored after it was discovered some pages included references to male genitalia and gangs.

420 yearbooks at John McCrae Secondary School in Barrhaven will be reprinted

Heather Nicholson was part of the yearbook team and said students finalized the project on their own after the teacher who oversaw them left midway through the school year. (Robyn Miller/CBC)

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  • The school announced on Monday, June 17 that it would reprint the yearbooks.

Hundreds of yearbooks at a high school in Ottawa's Barrhaven neighbourhood are being hastily censored after it was discovered some pages included references to male genitalia and gangs.

In an email to parents, principal Richard King said John McCrae Secondary School (JMSS) is in the process of "redacting some sections and creating labels to cover the offensive language" found in some 420 yearbooks after they came back from the printer.

I'm just a little sad that we didn't catch it in time.- Heather Nicholson, student

The books were supposed to be handed out June 12.

King said several "major typos" had been overlooked, and staff had also discovered "inappropriate messaging by several graduating students in their graduation write-ups."

CBC hasn't seen a copy of the printed yearbook, but Heather Nicholson, a Grade 12 student who worked on the project, said some sections contained lewd language and references to gangs.

"I'm just a little sad that we didn't catch it in time and that it has to be censored, and we have to end up pulling it all the way up to the last possible day to be handed out."

Greg Mcfarlene, a student at John McCrae Secondary School in Ottawa, is frustrated students will have to wait to receive the yearbooks they paid for. (Robyn Miller/CBC)

Principal apologizes

Nicholson said students at the school in southwest Ottawa spend the first half of the school year working on the yearbook to earn a credit. The class then becomes a voluntary club, she said, until the yearbooks are printed at the end of the year.

She said the teacher who oversaw the yearbook class left midway through the school year, so students finalized the project on their own.

"A teacher usually does look over it to double check, but unfortunately not this year," Nicholson said.

In his email to parents, King apologized for the oversight and said "it should have been caught sooner." 

The school announced Monday that it will reprint the yearbooks to ensure students receive "the quality of product they deserve." 

The school said it will let students and parents know when the books are ready sometime before September 2019. Any students who wish to cancel their order, will get a full refund, the school said. 

To allow for end-of-year yearbook signing, the students will receive four page adhesive inserts that can be stuck on their new books.

Faith Greco, another student, says the yearbook situation reflects poorly on the entire school. (Robyn Miller/CBC)

'It looks bad on all of us'

Student Greg Mcfarlene, 17, said he paid about $45 to purchase a yearbook and called the situation frustrating.

"It's kind of annoying just because we did pay for them. We were hoping to get them this year."

Faith Greco, 17, didn't purchase a yearbook, but worries the offensive language reflects poorly on the entire school.

"A lot of us take pride in going to John McCrae because it's a very inclusive school with a lot of very special people in it," she said. "It looks bad on all of us."

In his email, King admonished those who would "sully this permanent record as their high school legacy."

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