UPDATED 5/21/2014: (Clayton County, GA) — After the attention to this story, school district officials have apologized and will not ban her from attending graduation.
Graduating high school students often use yearbook quotes to leave a poignant message or some clever quip. However, one student’s nerdy joke apparently offended administrators at her school to the point that she may be held from walking with her class on graduation day.
Paris Gray of Mundy’s Mill High School in Clayton County, Ga., used the periodic table to spell out a message in her quote, according to WSB-TV in Atlanta. The message read: “When the going gets tough just remember to Barium, Carbon, Potassium, Thorium, Astatine, Arsenic, Sulfur, Uranium, Phosphorus” – essentially spelling out “Back That As* Up” using the chemical element codes. Gray, a student leader and senior class vice president, says this brouhaha is causing her undue anguish. She and her mother both say that Mundy’s Mill officials are overreacting, as the message went past the yearbook editors and was not flagged for indecency.
“I think their reaction was beyond what it should have been because nobody understood it,” said Gray to WSB-TV. “Basically, it was me just saying start all over again. You have to go back and start all over.”
Gray, who is Black, was held from her senior walk and served an in-school suspension over the matter. Gray and her mother Zarinah Woods were slated to meet with the school’s principal today in order to reach a decision allowing Gray to graduate with her classmates. She is slated to attend Tennessee State University this fall.
Watch the WSB-TV report below: