School yearbook photos: 'No' to cats and chihuahuas. 'Yes' to firearms?

A Nebraska high school has lifted the ban on firearms in school yearbook portraits. But a New York school banned a student from posing with a cat. 

(AP Photo/Trinacria Photography, Vincent Giordano)
This photo, constructed and provided by the photographer Vincent Giordano of Trinacria Photography, shows Schenectady High School senior Draven Rodriguez holding his cat Mr. Bugglesworth, along with Schenectady High School principal Diane Wilkinson holding her Chihuahua, Vivienne.

At Broken Bow High School in Nebraska seniors engaging in shooting as a competitive sport are now allowed to pose with guns for their yearbook portraits just as a football player might choose to hold up a game winning ball, according to school principal Rusty Kluender.

 “We have a lot of our students got to competitions and bring back trophies and we thought it was about time to honor them just as we do those participating in other sports,” Mr. Kluender says in a phone conversation.

On Monday the Broken Bow school board adopted a new policy that allows the firearms to be present in senior photos.

This came, according to Kluender, after a student’s submission of such a photo for last year’s yearbook had been denied.

To put this into perspective, the Broken Bow High School has a grand total of 59 seniors. “We had between three and seven requests for portraits with firearms to be allowed” says the principal.

“It’s like high school rodeo is a sport but it’s not a regular sanctioned school sport but still the students want to celebrate their achievements,” Kluender explains. “We allow high school rodeo participants to have a picture with their horse for the yearbook, so this just made sense.”

 Kluender also explained that hunting and shooting for sport are popular pastimes in the rural town of about 3,500.

This resolution is a far cry from the recent headline making conflict over teenager Draven Rodriguez's senior portrait  – with his cat. His Schenectady, N.Y. school would not allow the portrait of him holding his cat, Mr. Bigglesworth, and Schenectady High School principal Diane Wilkinson holding her Chihuahua, Vivienne ,surrounded by laser beams to became the student’s official yearbook photo.

The student-cat-principal-chihuahua-laser photo will make it into the yearbook “somewhere” according to news reports, just not as his official portrait shot.

Meanwhile, the Nebraska school board has made it clear that images submitted for publication as yearbook portraits with firearms must be tasteful.

 “There was a sense that to allow a student to have a firearm, as long as it was done in a tasteful manner in terms of a hunting or sporting-type picture, that that might be okay,” school district superintendent Mark Sievering said, according to Nebraska ABC affiliate KHGI.

 Perhaps the Nebraska principal had the best take on yearbook images and which should be allowed.

 “It’s about being positive,” Kluender says. “It’s about celebrating something in the student’s life.”

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