Middle school reprints yearbook due to offensive hand signs

Amanda Cassel, Managing Editor

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Middle schoolers will not receive their yearbooks until the fall due to a reprint. An email sent to families June 4 explained the yearbooks contained images including students playing the “circle game” by making hand signs — an upside-down “OK” symbol. The symbol has been co-opted in the last year to be associated with white supremacy, according to the email.

Middle schoolers met for an assembly June 5 to discuss reprinting the yearbooks. The administration made the decision after middle school yearbook faculty advisers Deb Foote and Treena Larson discovered the photos featuring the symbol.

“The circle game is just a new-ish version of ‘made you look,’” Middle School Principal Sandra Bixby said in an interview. “It’s not that the students knew they were making those offensive signs. ‘Made you look’ is a classic, and there’s nothing malicious about it.”

Toward the end of May, both Walter Payton College Prep and Oak Park River Forest High School found similar images with the hand symbol and announced yearbooks at the schools would be reprinted.

Lab’s middle school yearbooks will not be reprinted by the end of school, so the middle schoolers will receive special booklets to exchange and sign. When they receive their yearbooks in August or September, the booklets will be able to be attached.

“Not getting yearbooks in June is really disappointing, especially for eighth graders, and it disrupts the end of the year for them, but were doing it because it is the right thing to do and it’s not just for the school, its for the students too. Who knows how much it could escalate when they’re living their professional lives,” Ms. Foote explained.

“It’s not about the intent, it’s about the impact,” Ms. Bixby said. “The students definitely did not mean to make these hateful symbols, but because Lab is the kind of school it is, we are going to work to make sure we can right the wrongs before they have a negative impact.”