I graduated from Massaponax High School in 2002. I was a member of the first graduating class to go all four years there (it opened in 1998). From my first day at that school on, I was on the yearbook staff. I spent countless hours after school cropping pictures, writing headlines, and putting together layouts. I even had to go to yearbook camp. Yes, is it as lame as it sounds. On the plus side, at least I got laid a lot.
The D.C. area news has been covering this the last few days, but this year the Massaponax yearbook is causing an uproar. Apparently some suggestive language made its way into this edition. Principal Joe Rodkey has demanded the books be recalled.
A lot of people will have a lot to say about this situation. I’m sure they’ll have criticism for the instructor, and for the principal. All I’ll say is this: Joe Rodkey was MY principal. He was there for three of my four years in high school, and he handed me my diploma. The fact of the matter is, he wasn’t, and isn’t, perfect, but I believe he’s a good man and a good educator. Plus, you can call him J-Rod, and he kind of looked like Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer.
In fact, I actually have a confession of my own.
Here it is: when I wrote stories for the Yearbook, I used to make up quotes all the time. I was like Jayson Blair, if Jayson Blair’s Mom had to drive him to and from the New York Times. If you have some Massaponax yearbooks, go back and check it out. If the by-line reads, “Mike Eltringham,” I guarantee you that there is a 100% made-up quote from Daniel Ross or Greg Eltringham within the story. The first guy is my best friend from eighth grade; the second guy is my best friend from back when he was 1. Another thing they have in common? Neither one of them said a damn thing accredited to them in the Massaponax yearbook. I can’t tell you how many times I would receive an assignment in class to write a story, only to go home and make up some happy horseshit about how “freshman Daniel Ross says he is in the Key Club because it makes him feel better about helping his community. Greg Eltringham agreed, adding that nothing made him feel better than serving a bum some soup.” Then I’d go watch Duck Tales and eat a whole bag of Tostitos.
I would apologize to fellow staff members for the deception, but I was so tired from carrying them on my back for years as the clear cut best Yearbook guy there that I figured it wasn’t necessary.
Oh, and also, on page 127 of the 2002 edition, I snuck in a picture of Derek Jeter making a backhanded throw from the whole at short.
I never made up quotes from people I wasn’t friends with. It was always somebody who approved. After awhile, I’m surprised no one caught on. Here’s an excerpt from my award winning spread on the MHS chess club: “Greg Eltringham and Daniel Ross might not be members of the chess club, but they said there was nothing more exciting than watching a couple of dorks throw plastic around a table for a few hours. No one reads the chess club story anyway, so I can say whatever I want here. Say, you hear the one about the rabbi and the camel?”
I hope my lack of journalistic integrity draws some attention away from this whole mess going on. Even if it doesn’t, hopefully this all blows over soon. The goal of a Yearbook staff is to win awards (unless you’re me – my goal was to see how little work I could put in while appearing productive). I think the staff tried to get edgy and went a step or three too far. Somebody decided that ripping off PostSecret would get somebody’s name in lights, so they went for it. I hope the instructor comes out unscathed, because I’m sure everyone meant well.
Plus, I’m not ready to be asked to return as the Yearbook instructor, much like Welcome Back, Kotter. That wouldn’t work for two reasons: A) I don’t have a fro like Kotter, and B) I don’t know shit about yearbooks, as I haven’t even picked one up since 2003.
Anyway, best of luck Massaponax. Keep Panther Pride alive. You might not get to write about your privates in the yearbook, but these are the sacrifices we must make in exchange for freedom.