Friday, October 06, 2006

Fall 2006 WSU Rim Rats

Fall 2006 WSU Rim Rats

We’ve discussed the Derby High School yearbook controversy in editing class. This is an opportunity for you to have some input and show support for the Derby students before the school board hears from the concerned parent group Monday night.

You can e-mail the superintendent and school board president, along with other board members.

The superintendent is Craig Wilford (, and the board president is Diana Pearce (

Other board members are Carolyn Muehring, John Stuhlsatz, Dan Smith
and Ron Meadows. Their e-mail addresses would be first name initial and last name

By the way, Channel 3 is working on a story that I believe will run tonight, or at least before the board meeting Monday. Try to catch it.

Following is the e-mail I received from Jill Chittum, the adviser, about the issue. Jill has been doing a great job with the program at Derby, as some of you know. She is a former photographer for The Eagle. Please read her e-mail that follows and then e-mail those listed above in support of Jill and her students.

Most of you are aware that the DHS yearbook and newspaper staffs are something to be celebrated. In the last two years, both publications have been recognized nationally, and our students have placed at the state level and in national competitions. This would not be possible without a free and robust student press, allowing students to utilize critical thinking skills and report on issues that are important to themselves and their readers.

Fortunately, so far we have enjoyed the support of administration, both at the building level and at the district level.

Unfortunately, a group of parents has voiced their displeasure with some of the content of the 2006 yearbook. They say it is not an issue of censorship, just that they want the book "to set a standard of excellence" by including "excellent students." One parent in particular is worried about how her "small town school" is portrayed in the book. For a little perspective, please keep in mind that DHS is now officially the largest school in the state (numbers were just released last week.)

On KWCH 12 News, one parent has made her request that there be "more oversight" to the book, and that she plans on taking this to the school board Monday night. Now, I don't know about you, but to me, "more oversight" is a euphemism for censorship. In addition, parents (no one knows how many) plan to ask for refunds on the books.

We live in a state where people worked hard to earn students a Freedom of Expression law. It's vital that young people are taught the value of the First Amendment, and the ability to make their own decisions as they become adults.

I am writing to ask you to lend your support to this cause. The school board meeting Monday at 6:30 pm in the DHS lecture hall is open to the public.
Wichita Eagle reporter Ron Sylvester, who is the Regional Director for the Society of Professional Journalists, is on the agenda to speak in support of our students. We had a small but loyal group tonight present when Channel 12 came out to do interviews.

This fringe issue has been dragging on far too long. My students and I hope that Monday's board meeting will put an end to it, so that they can concentrate on the yearbook we are currently trying to put together. (Novel concept, eh?)

If you or anyone you know is willing to support the journalism students, please spread the word. You can reach me by email at, or by phone at 706-1336 (cell).

Thanks again, and please let me know of any questions I can answer for you.

Jill Chittum, CJE
DHS Yearbook and Newspaper Adviser
2005 JEA Rising Star Award Winner
The Panther's Tale Newspaper - 2006 NSPA All-American


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