Hundreds of copies of a North Carolina high school’s yearbook will be reprinted after a student noticed a photo of the Confederate flag on the cover and alerted school administration.
The 2018-2019 yearbook at Thomasville High School had a theme – “A Blast to the Past” – and used archived photos from the Thomasville, N.C., school dating back to the early 1900s.
A photo from the class of 1968 with the words “Go Dogs,” featuring a Confederate flag in the background, was one of the photos printed on the yearbook cover.
In a Facebook Live video published on Wednesday, Thomasville High School student body president JacQuez Johnson said that he was one of the select few to receive the yearbook early. He didn’t notice the Confederate flag at first, but when he did, he let school administration know on Tuesday. In response, they recalled the few books that had been handed out to students and decided to reprint the others.
Johnson clarified that the photo was simply something that was overlooked and was not intended to hurt or offend anyone.
“I truly believe that this was an honest mistake and we shouldn’t let this take away from all the hard work my fellow peers put into making our yearbook spectacular,” Johnson said in a statement provided to Yahoo Lifestyle. “We should see this as a learning opportunity to have an open discussion about our history and ways that we can move forward together as a community.”
In the video, Johnson urged the public to accept that the photo was nothing more than an error that is being dealt with.
“Let’s not create a narrative that’s not true,” he said. “The Confederate flag has no place inside our community and has no place inside of our school, and we understand that and we recognize that.”
Celia Hooper, who was the yearbook editor at Thomasville High School in 1969 posted a comment on Johnson’s Facebook video, expressing her shock when she heard about the image but making it clear that she sees the reactions as progress and positive change.
“We were products of our time and we have changed. The class of 1969 went through school desegregation very successfully,” her comment read.
“I wish a yearbook advisor or yearbook staff member had caught the mistake before such an expense, but I understand the reasoning behind reprinting,” Hooper added in a statement provided to Yahoo Lifestyle. “I think this could be an opportunity to have a conversation about what this picture means to students and society at large, not unlike the conversations we are having on our college campuses around confederate soldier monuments.”
In a statement provided to Yahoo Lifestyle, Thomasville City School officials “apologize for such an egregious error and vow to have a system in place to prevent such mistakes from happening again.”
Thomasville City Schools Superintendent, Dr. Catherine Gentry told FOX8 that the image is “hurtful and harmful and it's not representative of the community we are trying to build in schools.
"Regardless of your feelings or affiliations, there is a place for things. School is not the place for some things," she told the news outlet. "We need to make sure our students and our teachers are educated about cultural sensitivities around that symbol."
Thomasville High School will reprint the yearbooks, at no additional cost to students and will distribute the new books before the school year ends on Friday, according to FOX8.
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