Rory Devine

Images of Swastika Show Up in Middle School Yearbook

A Creative Performing and Media Arts Middle School student flipping through the yearbook.

Two images of a swastika inadvertently ended up in a yearbook for the Creative Performing and Media Arts Middle School in Clairemont, upsetting a parent and her friends in the Jewish community.

“I saw it there, I think initially felt shock because I tried to rationalize why it would be there," said Jennifer Ritter, who is Jewish.

The swastikas were displayed on a bulletin board as part of a class project and appeared in the backgrounds of photos of students taken by the yearbook class teacher, who is Jewish and teaches a class on the Holocaust, according to school principal Scott Thomason.

Thomason said it is a matter of context. He said the teacher instructs students about tolerance and how to be knowledgeable about symbols to be better informed. He said it is not inappropriate in and of itself to have the swastika be part of the conversation.

“There was no intentionality, there was no malice.," he said.

Ritter said it is one thing to educate students, and another to pin up an image of a swastika on a bulletin board in a classroom.

“It doesn’t make it any better. Why use a swastika? Why draw a swastika, and put it where everyone can see it? It is a symbol of hatred and should not be in a school, or anywhere else," she said.

As for the images being in the yearbook, Thomason said, “If we had to do it over again, go back in time, it would be great to catch that and say, ‘Can you get a different picture, because it could be misrepresented and taken out of context.’”

He said he will reach out to parents and give a sticker to anyone who wants to cover the images.

Ritter feels the yearbooks should be recalled and replaced, and said the images should not be out there at all.

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