MANSFIELD The Legacy High School students were beaming with pride after returning in April from San Francisco, where they collected a Silver Crown in a national competition for best yearbooks of 2012.The euphoria was short-lived.When the 2013 edition of the Arena yearbook came out last month, the staff was peppered with ridicule on social media sites because of a front-page typographical error – a misspelling of the school district’s website.“My students were upset,” said student publication adviser Leland Mallett. “We have a nationally ranked yearbook. They’re proud of what they do. And then they come home, and a minor mistake becomes a big deal.”But the students didn’t mope for long.They decided to poke a little fun at themselves – and their mostly anonymous critics – by turning the error into a real website: www.mansfiledisd.org, headed with “Oops Our Bad!”But it wasn’t all apologies.“We try our best to get it right, but we, like you, are not perfect,” the website says. “Just be glad we don’t print your mistakes, your English papers, your tweets with misspelled items, your bad grammar on Facebook, your fumbles, your miscues, your wrong notes.”And, the staff said, the mistake paled in comparison with the ringing clunkers found in other high school yearbooks and professional publications. In one example, a yearbook photo and banner in a paid family advertisement, a baseball player is praised by his parents as “Our Homerun Hitler.”Mallett also pointed out the controversy over a cheerleader group photo in the Irving High School yearbook that identified one girl in a derogatory way. It was no accident and has been called bullying. The district has recalled the books and is investigating how the slur made it into print.The Arena’s mock website doesn’t mention the flap over the many errors in the 2013 Tiger, the yearbook of crosstown rival Mansfield High School.Those slips included switching photos and congratulatory messages in yearbook ads bought by parents of graduating seniors, and there were several other instances of misspelled names and incorrect photo captions.On one page that was to feature team photos of both the varsity and junior varsity football players, there were two photos of the junior varsity squad, one of them identified as the varsity.The errors sparked angry comments on social media, including from several parents who paid for the ads – $375 for a full page, $225 for a half-page and $150 for a quarter-page. The district said those costs will be reimbursed.Mayor David Cook said his family’s $225 half-page ad was supposed to feature a photo of his daughter, Cecilee, who graduated last week, but in its place was a picture of two other girls. Cook said the incident was disappointing.“Obviously, the purpose of the yearbook is to capture and record school memories that will last a lifetime,” Cook said. “So we regret it happened, but we also understand that creating the yearbook is a hands-on learning opportunity for students and that mistakes can be made.”Savana Daniell, who graduated from Mansfield High last week, said she bought the Tiger yearbook for the first time to preserve “my senior memories.”“It was just annoying because a lot of people were upset – about people’s names being misspelled, and some people put in quotes for people who didn’t actually say those things,” Daniell said. District spokesman Richie Escovedo said the criticism was more than the staffs of the Tiger and Arena deserved.He said that the Tiger had 12 incorrect ads out of more than 90 senior ads in the 340-page-plus book and that the district will refund the $3,000 paid for those ads. But he said the $70 cost of the yearbooks will not be refunded.Mansfield and Legacy high schools each bought nearly 1,000 yearbooks, about twice the number of graduating seniors at each school. Legacy charged $72 for its 304-page Arena yearbook, Mallett said.The district is offering correction stickers to place over errors in the yearbook copies.
Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7641 Twitter: @Kaddmann