MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Just under a month after a Big Lake trap team’s photo was banned from the high school yearbook, another high school yearbook photo is making news.
For its 2017 yearbook, Brainerd High School dedicated a page to President Donald Trump. Editors asked students their thoughts on the president, and shared the quotes next to their picture.
One sophomore said, “I would like to behead him. I do not like him.”
The photo went viral, sparking controversy on Twitter. Now, that student is telling her side of the story.
“I was so confused, because at first, I didn’t ever remember saying that,” 15-year-old Camryn said.
Camryn — who asked WCCO not to reveal her last name — says she had no idea a conversation with a classmate last September would lead to nationwide attention. She says the classmate never said she was working for the yearbook when she asked about then-candidate Donald Trump.
“I did not say, ‘I want to behead him.’ I did not say, ‘I am going to behead him.’ I just said, ‘Well I’m sure we all wouldn’t mind him being beheaded,’ — something along those lines,” Camryn said. “But there was never the direct quote, ‘I do not like him. I would like to behead him.”
That conversation exploded on social media 8 months later, with the help of at least one celebrity. Former “Joanie Loves Chachi” actor Scott Baio shared the photo, tagging the president, the FBI, Sean Hannity and Kellyanne Conway.
“This all just blew up, and Scott Baio, as you know, a very famous actor, posted it on Twitter,” Camryn said. “And he didn’t cover my name or my picture either, and his over 100,000 Twitter followers all got my first and last name, and my picture.”
A street corner a block from the high school served as the backdrop to an impromptu protest over a yearbook comment turned controversy.
“Get some accountability here, folks,” one man shouted.
“It’s not a Republican, Democrat issue — what are you teaching the children?” Another woman asked.
Jeff Czeczok calls himself a local government activist. He wants the teacher of the yearbook class fired.
“‘I would like to behead him’ is a threat,” Czeczok said. “It gives a terrible name to the school.”
On Friday afternoon, the administration of Brainerd Public Schools said they had been notified of the statements in the yearbook.
District officials released a statement saying, in part, that the district does not support or endorse the comments made by students.
“While the District supports Free Speech, the disrespectful statements in the yearbook are contrary to the basic educational mission of the District and should not have been included in a school sponsored publication,” the statement said.
The statement also issued an apology and said they are currently investigating how the page ended up in the yearbook. They said they did not know about these statements prior.
“An apology is always fine after the fact but why did it happen in the first place.” Czeczok said.
“It’s the teachers fault,” Cameron Senica, a Brainerd High School Senior told us. “I do agree with the school but I feel it’s being blown way out of proportion.”
The U.S. Secret Service has seen the Brainerd yearbook comment and is currently under investigation, so the agency cannot comment further. Camryn hasn’t heard from them, but says she reached out Friday.
“I wanted to make sure that there was no way that they would beat down my front door and get me in handcuffs, because I didn’t say that,” she said.