Utah high school apologizes to some for raising necklines, adding sleeves in yearbook photos

SALT LAKE CITY – Some Utah high school students who cracked their yearbooks to find sleeves digitally added to their tank tops and a tattoo erased say school officials have apologized to them.

Wasatch High School administrators in recent days offered at least one student the chance to return her yearbook and get back her $50.

But sophomore Shelby Baum opted to keep the memento.

“I was a little surprised, but for the most part I knew, if it was real or not, I would get an apology,” she said Monday evening. “I’m over the whole thing. There’s not much that I can do about it now.”

Last week, Baum discovered her collarbone tattoo reading “I am enough the way I am” was lifted from her yearbook photo. She also found a high, square neckline drawn onto her black V-neck T-shirt.

Half a dozen other girls noticed camisoles or sleeves added to their pictures.

District officials declined to comment Tuesday, pointing to their statement last week acknowledging error in doctoring pictures of some students but not others who were similarly dressed.

Wasatch High School is in Heber City, about 40 miles outside Salt Lake City.

Baum earlier said she planned to ask for a refund or a new yearbook with an unaltered photo, but she changed her mind at her mother’s urging.

At the very least, said Baum’s mother, Bobbi Westergard, the doctored photos can remind the girls they spoke out against a policy that singled out some students.

Baum said she and her mother met with a vice principal who said he didn’t want Baum to feel unwelcome at the school.

The district’s statement pointed out that yearbook staffers warned students that clothing violating the school dress code adhering to modesty might undergo digital touchups.

“The high school yearbook staff did make some errors and were not consistent in how they were applied to student photos,” it reads, “and the school apologizes for that inconsistency.”

Other students say they have not received an apology but are eager to move past the ordeal and on with summer vacation, which began Friday.

Sophomore Rachel Russell, 16, said she received a phone call from the school’s principal, who explained he was sorry for the ordeal.

“I’m still kind of ticked that it happened,” she said Tuesday, adding that she’s turning her attention this week to a planned summer road trip with her sister and grandmother.

Sophomores Haylee Nielsen and Kimberly Montoya said they did not hear from officials, aside from a school-wide email acknowledging the alterations.

Baum’s mother said her daughter has had to endure comments on online news stories from people wondering what kind of 16-year-old would have a tattoo.

“I think a lot of people are missing the point,” Westergard said, characterizing her daughter as a dedicated, responsible student.

The teens said their biggest concern is preventing such edits in future years.

“I’m glad we were able to speak out about it,” Montoya said.

She said the students conveyed that there are more important things to worry about “than a girl showing her shoulders.”