The pages of a high school yearbook are sacred territory. They are a declaration of accomplishment, a testament to memories made, and later serve as a time capsule that allows individuals to look back and remember a formative time in their life. Yearbook photos are especially unique in that they are one of the few times an entire class can be seen together, united in the close of one chapter and opening of a new one. At least that’s what they should have been for seniors at Mark T. Sheehan High School.
As reported by New s 8 on WTNH.com, Amanda Paeth, a senior with autism spectrum was the only student left out of her high school yearbook. Paeth should have no pause for celebration after graduating on time, getting a job, and earning her driver’s license but being excluded from the yearbook has placed a dark cloud over what should be a happy time. This omission was heartbreaking for Paeth’s mother, Jeannine Kremzar, who explained that her daughter “was singled out of a lot of things and she missed out on a lot of things because of it because people just did not understand, administration didn’t understand, peers didn’t understand.” Kremzar simply felt that “nobody took the time to get to know [Amanda]” during her time in high school.
Paeth was also very disappointed by the school’s failure to include all students in the yearbook. Paeth detailed her reaction after she received the yearbook at school to News 8 by saying, “This is not right. You guys got every other kid but me. I basically gave the teacher my book and I walked out of school. You guys could keep it.” Paeth also highlighted the importance of equality in schools for individuals with autism by saying, “We still function like you guys. We still do clubs. We still do sports. We still go to classes like you. We still learn.”
News 8 also reported that the only response Kremzar received about the incident was a call from the principal 5 days after the initial report. Kremzar’s suspicions lead her to believe her daughter’s exclusion from the yearbook was intentional because Paeth was bullied in the past but the school administration has maintained that the omission was a simple mistake. The school claims the students and faculty that created the yearbook were more focused on removing inappropriate senior quotes and checking for spelling errors. The solution offered by the school was to make Amanda’s photo into a sticker and place it at the end of the photos. However, because students received their yearbooks already it may be difficult to assure that Paeth’s photo will be placed in all the books.
Paeth’s yearbook is photographed below with her photo sticker and hand written quote that reads, “We fall when we are weak, but what we do next, shows that we still have our true strength locked within, waiting for you to get up.”