A high school newspaper angered parents and students with a story about underage drinking accompanied by blurred pictures, including one showing a student using a beer bong.
The Campus View, the newspaper at Topeka West High School, used photos from accounts students posted themselves on Facebook.com, a social networking Web site. The story in its Dec. 11 edition also featured comments from anonymous students about their drinking habits.
Some parents were upset because they could still identify who was in the photos, said Stan Wagstaff, the school’s principal.
Besides the photo featuring the beer bong, a funnel and hose used to consume large amounts of alcohol quickly, there was one showing people huddled around a table with numerous open beer cans.
“Parents are angry about the pictures, but they were out there on students’ sites,” Raqual Mann, an 18-year-old senior who is the newspaper’s features editor, told The Topeka Capital-Journal.
Wagstaff met Monday with parents and the school’s journalism adviser, Kristy Dekat. Wagstaff cited student confidentiality in saying he would not discuss what went on during the afternoon meeting.
Dekat said the newspaper contacted the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va., before publishing the photos, but she wouldn’t comment further, citing the tension caused by the story.
Mann said she has been harassed by fellow students but feels good about the dialogue generated by the story.
“It was talked about in debate classes,” she said. “It was talked about in government classes. It got talked about, for sure.”
She also said: “I never knew it would draw this much attention.”