What should have been just another “senior photo day” at Phoenix’s Desert Vista High School has turned into a racial incident, thanks to the actions of a handful of students. It’s an annual tradition at the school to take a group photo of seniors. This year, it was a be a panorama shot, spanning two pages of the yearbook. Each student was to wear a shirt with a character on it in order to spell out “BEST*YOU’VE*EVER*SEEN*CLASS*OF*2016“. After photos had been taken, a group of student decided to arrange themselves for an unsanctioned photo. A group of six arranged themselves to spell “N1**ER” with their shirts. Even with the asterisks, the intent was clear. The picture was originally posted to Snapchat but, at some point it made its way onto other social media sites, as well. It spread around the school like wildfire and within two hours, had created a firestorm at the school. The photo has since gone viral and the story is now being picked up by news outlets outside of Phoenix.
In a letter sent to parents on the day of the incident, the school’s principal, Dr. Christine Barela, stated that those involved in this photo will be disciplined:
“We want to let you know we share your outrage and disappointment over the actions of a handful of our students today. We want to make it crystal clear those actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated at Desert Vista. Those actions do not represent who we are as a campus. We can assure you we will discipline these students in accordance with district policy and our student handbook. While we don’t discuss individual discipline, we can tell you that in addition, the obvious need for sensitivity training will be addressed.”