2018-12-06 / News

OOB High School graduates waiting for yearbooks

By Liz Gotthelf
Journal Tribune

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — When the Old Orchard Beach High School class of 2018 graduated in June, they hoped to have their yearbooks in hand and ready to be signed by friends and teachers.

Fast forward more than five months later, and students still don’t have their yearbooks.

Superintendent of Schools John Suttie, who also serves as the principal of Old Orchard Beach High School, addressed the concern that was on many minds of local students and parents at a Regional School Unit 23 Board meeting Thursday, Nov. 29.

“I am going to try to be as transparent as I can possibley be without violating any personnel confidentiality laws,” Suttie said.

Suttie did not reveal the staff person’s name, but said the person who was in charge of the yearbook had said in June there would be a short delay in getting the yearbooks.

After the delay continued and the school hadn’t received the yearbooks by September, Suttie said he became “increasingly concerned” and questioned the individual.

“We were misled about the reasons why the yearbooks had not been delivered,” Suttie said.

Suttie said he asked the staff person to take a leave of absence from their duties at the school to finish the yearbook, with the hope that the school could have the yearbooks ready for a Dec. 21 book signing and holiday gathering.

The staff member, after taking six days off from work, told him the yearbook was completed, Suttie said.

Suttie said he had asked the staff person on Tuesday if the yearbook company would be able to get the yearbooks to the school in time for the Dec. 21 target date.

“The individual responded in a way that made me a little bit uncomfortable. I didn’t get a solid yes, I got sort of a half answer,” Suttie said.

Suttie said he called the yearbook company on Wednesday, and the sales representative told him the yearbook had not been submitted. He then told the staff person to go home and finish the yearbook.

“We had a discussion about honesty, about being misled, the board being misled, myself being misled,” Suttie said.

Suttie said he received an email from the staff person on Thursday with “some visual proof” the yearbook had been completed and submitted.

Suttie said he then called the salesperson from the yearbook company who said he’d do the best he could to put a rush on the yearbook order, but couldn’t comment at this time on a realistic date for completion.

“My hope is to somehow find a way to get the kids together in some way, shape or form to have some sort of gathering and celebration of the yearbooks,” Suttie said.

The staff member in charge of the yearbook, has been a “generally competent and capable employee,” and that he trusted the individual, Suttie said.

The school department is offering refunds to those who purchased yearbooks, Suttie said, and that as superintendent he takes full responsibility for the problem.

Alex Coleman said she had hoped to get the yearbook when she graduated from Old Orchard Beach High School so she could have her classmates sign it and capture the memories of school when they were all still together. She said many students have gone off to college or the military or have moved away, and after high school people drift apart.

“You’re not going to have the same memories now as you did then,” she said.

She said it would have been nice to have something to sign at that time that they could hang onto later along with their yearbooks.

“You can’t get that time back,” she said. “We’re not asking for that time back, we just want our yearbooks and not be lied to.”

Coleman said she had first been told that she’d have the yearbook at the beginning of the school year, and then by Dec. 21. She said given the update by the superintendent, she’s not sure that Dec. 21 is realistic.

“That’s less than a month away,” she said.

Coleman said she feels the administration should have done a better job following up with the yearbook adviser to make sure the yearbook was completed. If she and other graduates knew the yearbook adviser was having trouble completing the yearbook on time, they would have gladly offered to help, as they were all eager to get their yearbooks, she said.

“I don’t understand why there was such a lack of communication with us,” she said.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 780-9015 or egotthelf@journaltribune.com.

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