High school senior Rebekah Rorick submitted a picture of herself with her dog and a gun to be included in the 2015 Braodalbin-Perth High School yearbook. Rebekah was shocked when she got word that the picture had been rejected by one of the faculty members on the yearbook committee due to the weapon, as reported by Fox News.
The photo, as per Yahoo! News, shows Rebekah wearing camouflage, holding her hunting rifle as she kneels by her pet dog. Rebekah told WTEN that she loves the photo, and expresses that she was excited at the idea of having it included in her senior yearbook.
“My family has always hunted. It’s something I do with my family, and my dog is my best friend. So I decided to put her in the photo. I fell in love with the picture. It’s my favorite photo of all time right now.”
As a photo that represents a large part of who she is, Rebekah couldn’t understand why the photo was rejected.
“And I was like, ‘Why?’ And they are like, ‘Because there’s a gun in it,’ And I’m like, ‘But it’s a hunting rifle. I’m wearing camo. I have my dog with me.’ I was ready to cry. I didn’t know what I was going to do. The only thing I thought to do was address it.”
And “address it” is exactly what Rebekah and her dad, Michael Rorick, did.
Rebekah and her father went before the school board to appeal her case. Michael Rorick explained to the board that the picture of Rebekah was no different than any of the other photos showing other students’ interests and hobbies. His daughter just happens to enjoy hunting.
Rebekah and her father also pointed out a photo of a senior holding a hunting rifle in the 2012 yearbook. Michael goes on to say that hunting in an important part of the Rorick’s family life, as per Yahoo! News.
“We are in the foothills of the Adirondacks. Hunting is a part of our tradition.”
Superintendent Stephen Tomlinson had not seen or heard about Rebekah’s picture before the meeting. Tomlinson told WTEN that he had no problem with the photo, and he approved it to be allowed in the 2015 yearbook.
“I think the yearbook staff’s opinion was that that could be seen as a weapon.”
The school has a very strict no-weapon policy. However, Tomlinson and other members of the school board did not see this photo as threatening that policy.
“We do have a policy against weapons, but at first glance, and even now, I do not believe that this is. She is not holding the gun in a malicious manner. She is not pointing it anywhere. It’s to me, in my opinion, a nice photograph of a young lady in the Adirondack region that enjoys hunting.”
The board overturned the decision, and Rebekah won her appeal.
She was overjoyed as she spoke to WTEN.
“I was so happy. I could not stop smiling. I felt the board had a lot of courage. It’s something I’ll hold forever.”
Will this decision set a precedent and raise challenges, as other students may want to fight to express themselves? Possibly. However, Tomlinson doesn’t seem to concerned, as he said they would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.