Public schools

High School Senior Won't Be Banned from Graduation for Yearbook Chemistry Joke After All


but can you make a bomb from them?
via WSB-TV

Mundy's Mill High School senior Paris Gray of Clayton County, Georgia, will be graduating after all. Gray received an in-school suspension and was barred from a "senior walk" after administrators figured out that a list of chemical elements she included in her yearbook blurb translated (by their periodical symbols) to "BaCK ThAt AsS UP," a reference to a 1998 song by the artist Juvenile. She said an assistant principal told her she would not be allowed to give a previously scheduled speech at graduation because of the yearbook comments.

Gray also pointed out no editors or administrators flagged the comment ahead of time. It shouldn't have taken any educator more than a few seconds of googling to figure out what the line "When the going gets tough, just remember to Barium, Carbon, Potassium, Thorium, Astatine, Arsenic, Sulfur, Utranium, Phospheros" meant, typos notwithstanding. Using the periodic table to spell a message out isn't quite "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" but neither is it Navajo.

Gray's story got a lot of media attention and now the school is, uh, backing up, saying that the threat of Gray being punished by limiting her participation at graduation was a miscommunication and that she'd be allowed to give her graduation speech after all. Perhaps the school only ever intended to give her an "in-school suspension" and bar her from a single senior event. It could also be that the attention given to the school's overreaction to an obscure reference that included a minor profanity forced administrators to think twice about what they were doing.

NEXT: Vid: Overpopulation is a Myth - Q&A with Misconception Filmmaker Jessica Yu

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I'm honestly surprised that any faculty member was able to decipher it.

    1. It sounds like they didn't. I am guessing they eventually heard the student body whispers.

    2. They probably thought it was a terrorist threat.

  2. peak retard will never be reached among educrats, will it? Instead of getting the vapors, maybe they should be glad she has heard of some of these things and perhaps teach her how to spell phosphorus.

  3. If she goes on to get a science degree, I'll hire her in a second.

    1. Well, either she or the yearbook editors should be given an F for the egregious errors. I mean, really, "Sulfer"? "Utranium"? "Phospheros"?

  4. I feel kind of bad for high school administrators. The rest of us, as we grew up, gained perspective on the stuff we thought was such a huge deal in high school, and realized that it was actually just petty bullshit that we barely even recall a decade or so on.

    But high school administrators have to live that petty bullshit every day for decades. So when a teenaged girl commits a slight breach of conformity on her way out the door, administrators bring down the hammer on her as though a minor cryptic profanity in a high school yearbook will ever matter to anyone anywhere in the universe.

    Being a big fish in a small pond must be its own special kind of torture.

    1. That's what my parents always taught me about school administrators. But I'm not sure they think it's torture.

      1. Which is worse: a prison that you know you're stuck in or a prion that you don't know you're stuck in? A prison imposed on you, or the one you impose on yourself?

        1. Objectively worse or subjectively worse? I mean, that's the issue, right?

          1. If anyone here can speak cogently on worse...

          2. I suppose it is. But I have a hard time nailing down what objectively worse would even mean in the context of an experiential question.

            1. Well, it sounds like you're suggesting that a prison you don't know you're stuck in would be "worse," but I think it probably wouldn't seem worse to the person in it. That is to say, you're already thinking "objectively." Are people with Stockholm Syndrome "suffering"? Etc.

              1. It's false consciousness all the way down.

                Besides, it's a prison in which they're wardens and guards. Hugh had the right of it with big fish, small pond. They're petty tyrants over part-time fiefs.

              2. You have a point there. The person in the prison of their own making probably isn't suffering as bad as they would in a prison of someone else's making. So in that sense it is subjectively better.

                But we can still look at them from without and say "wow they could be doing so much more with their lives if they would just pull their head out of their ass." That's clearly distinct from subjective suffering, but at the same time I have a hard time calling it objective.

                1. That makes sense, since it's not in fact objective. It's just a subjective judgment from a second party.

                  And now let's stop talking about ourselves before I get depressed.

            2. Since I'm not an objectivist, I don't think there is any such thing as objectively worst. It's a matter of preference and personal experience. Maybe some people want to be in a real or symbolic prison. Who am I to judge? Making that judgement for other people leads quickly to some sort of false consciousness nonsense.

        2. Hugh, did you receive my email?

          1. I did. I have been severely disinclined against social interaction of any kind lately. Let me put some pants on and I'll get back to you.

            1. Let's keep it clean, you two.

            2. I don't want you to feel compelled to chisel yourself out of a barcalounger and shower or anything, unless you plan on accepting the invite, in which case I HIGHLY recommend showering, and pants.

              1. Its always fucking pants.

                1. A kilt or well fitting bathrobe would probably work too.

    2. Good one, Hugh. But one quibble:

      [H]igh school administrators have choose to to live that petty bullshit every day, and are well paid for it.

      1. Our public servants do not choose their lives of public servitude. They are called into service, and serve out of selfless civic devotion.

        1. Does anyone actually believe that? I know the teachers and administrators don't.

          1. You mean they're lying to us?!

    3. The janitor is smarter than the administrators.

  5. I think this deserves a stern lecture instead of immediate and dire consequences. School administrators appear to go straight to the nuclear option.

    1. Why even a stern lecture? The only thing they could legitimately criticize is the spelling, and that might've been one of the yearbook dweebs.

  6. What I want to know is who will be banned from graduation for terrible copy editing skillz.

    1. The copy editor is also billed to delivery a speech. It's tentatively titled The Umportince of Furst Impreshuns.

  7. That woman needs to deliver one of the speeches; she's FUNNY!

    1. If she plays her cards right, in a few decades she could be turned down by all manner of prestigious instutitions for her unorthodox views. I hear Brandeis is always looking for speakers.

  8. And aren't we proud that Miss Utranium is the best and brightest at this school, since someone chose her to give a speech.

    1. "That's Ms Sulpher Utranium Phospheros to *you*!"

  9. You've got to watch out for those sulfer and utranium compounds. They'll back your ass up.

  10. DAT ASS

  11. I liked last years better when Jessica Lee did "Fluorine uranium carbon potassium bismuth technetium helium sulfur germanium thulium oxygen neon yttrium."

    Fuck bitches, get money.

    1. Money over bitches, I'm yellin' it to the grave.

      1. Money over everything.

    2. Yeah I was wondering. I mean "fuck bitches, get money" is a much more empowering statement anyway.

      1. Telling my dad I wanted a life of "bitches, blow and bling" put an immediate end to his "What do you want to do with your life?" questions.

        He knew I'd found truly noble goals.

        1. You know, there are probably men you can date who aren't bitches.

          1. Probably, but then who would I dress in bikinis and captains' hats on my yacht made of blow?

            1. Man, now I'm going to be seeing bears in banana hammocks in my mind all day long.

              1. It's like you're doing mental training for your gay-for-pay career already.

  12. OT: Students in Brooklyn strike back against enemies.

    Two elementary grade students in Brooklyn, N.Y., have been arrested and charged with poisoning a teacher by putting rat killing chemicals in her water bottle.

  13. Holy crap. In our Senior Class Will, I wrote "I leave sniffing glue to XXXX and YYYYY," and it was printed up and distributed and I never
    got one word of flak.

  14. I moved out of Clayton County about a decade ago because it was basically a war zone.(The sheriff actually drove a fucking tank down one of the main roads.) Nice to see they've solved all of those problems and now have time to focus on this bullshit.

  15. Alpha Mike Foxtrot

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.