‘Disturbing’ content in yearbook sparks controversy: ‘What kind of sicko?’

This certainly smells like teen spirit.

A Missouri high school yearbook is sparking controversy for detailing student participation in sex, drugs and alcohol.

“You start flipping through, and it’s really nice — you see the swim team and the basketball team, and all their accomplishments. … then you turn the page,” Nicki Walker, a parent of an eighth grader who often interacts with Kirkwood High School students, told TODAY.com.

She was “horrified” to see photos of vape pods and beer among survey answers describing students’ poison of choice.

The Post has reached out to Kirkwood High School for comment.

One page titled “Hooked(ish)” features opinions from students about “hook-up culture, the concept of a casual sexual relationship without labels, and its benefits and consequences.”

Adorned with images of Plan-B One-Step, pregnancy tests, condoms and more, the spread is chalk-full of survey responses from anonymous students about the “weirdest” places they have hooked up: A football field, a dressing room, and even a “bowling alley parking lot in the backseat of someone else’s car.”

“What kind of sicko is allowing this sort of stuff to be published?” the aghast Walker exclaimed, calling this year’s memento “sensational and classless.”

Student responses were kept anonymous in the book, which also disclosed drinking habits and cannabis use.

The student-run yearbook lacks administrative oversight — on purpose.

“The Pioneer” has won a slew of awards in recent years.

“School officials do not engage in prior review of the yearbook,” a district spokesperson told TODAY.com. “The content of KHS Media is determined by and reflects only the views of the student staff and not school officials or the school itself.”

The yearbook’s editor-in-chief, Avery Oppermann, thanked the school’s principal, Dr. Mike Havener, and yearbook adviser, Mitch Eden, for allowing students to use their “voices for good.”

This year’s book is titled “What it Means.”

While much of the book features typical fare — school photos, sports teams and more — the glaring X-rated content caught the unwanted attention of concerned parents.

“As high school journalists, we are simply trying to record the real history of the year,” Oppermann said in a statement to TODAY.com. “Yearbook is journalism, so there is good, sad, happy, and bad; just like high schoolers lives. Those are the things we want to reflect.”

She added: “I think it’s important to give students voices and we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about these types of topics or any topics for that matter. Covering topics that matter help spur discussion and help to educate people.”

On Instagram, the official Kirkwood Pioneer Yearbook account stated it is “proud” of what the staff accomplished, expressing gratitude for the ability to publish what it sees as relevant and true.

Many viewers applauded the students for their hutzpah, calling the work “iconic” and “fantastic.”

But on Facebook, dismayed parents sang a different tune — they denounced the “glorification” and “glamorization” of “sexual promiscuity” that riddles the pages.

Kerri Tumminello Fenton wrote, in part, that the yearbook “normalized this very unhealthy lifestyle of exploiting your ‘body count’ and pretending like it’s nothing at all, like they don’t look in the mirror and feel shame.”

“They’ve traded their souls for a life of lust, and the uptick in this continued behavior is inevitable,” she added, calling the behavior “disturbing.”

Some parents were upset at the lack of oversight at the student-run yearbook, while others applauded the candor.

“It’s not for parents. It’s not for grandparents. It’s for them,” one parent said.
But one parent, who asked her full name be withheld for privacy reasons, told TODAY.com the yearbook is the “cornerstone” of the school’s journalistic reputation.

If the glossy pages are meant to preserve each year in photographs and stories, then the intimate details — no matter how raunchy — are accurate reflections of their time in school.

While parents would rather tune out the reality of their child’s racy escapades in mall dressing rooms, “it’s not our yearbook,” the parent admitted.

“Yearbook is journalism, so there is good, sad, happy, and bad; just like high schoolers lives. Those are the things we want to reflect,” the yearbook’s editor-in-chief, Avery Oppermann, told TODAY.
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“The yearbook is a reflection of their experience. It’s not for parents. It’s not for grandparents. It’s for them,” the Kirkwood parent said, explaining that “kids today process stuff by writing.”

Derek Byers, a parent of a graduating senior, told the local Fox News affiliate that he champions the “unique autonomy” Kirkwood High School students are given with the yearbook.

“I don’t have an issue with this,” he said, noting that perhaps if he had a kindergartener instead, it would “blow [his] socks off.”

“But now having a student who has finished high school, I think it represents what they’ve experienced during the past four years, from ages 14 to 18, socially,” he continued.

“I think it’s fine for them to discuss it openly. I think things were suppressed when we were kids. It was a voodoo topic.”

* Article From: The New York Post