By Alexis Stevens The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Many of their friends have cell phones and Facebook accounts, and in August, they'll be in middle school. They're tweens, but sound mature beyond their years.
Still, fifth graders at one north Fulton County elementary school were surprised they were told they couldn't write just anything in each other's yearbooks. If they wanted the yearbooks, they'd have to first sign a pledge that they wouldn't use acronyms or draw pictures while signing the books.
No more LOL? Seriously?
"It's like they don't trust us," Alyssa Marchelletta, 11, told the AJC. "We've been writing that stuff for years now."
Even the Birmingham Falls Elementary School fifth-grade T-shirts say CUL8R, Alyssa said. That's "See you later," for you old-school folks.
The pledge she was asked to sign Friday didn't make sense to 11-year-old Roxy Silva either, but she said she did it so her parents wouldn't have to come pick up her book from the principal's office. That afternoon, she told her mom about it. Over the weekend, her friend Alyssa mentioned the signed form to her dad.
By Monday, word of the contract had spread quickly among parents, helped by Facebook. Alyssa's mom, Sandy Marchelletta, told the AJC she felt like her daughter was bullied into signing the form, which parents did not see ahead of time.
"How dare you tell my child what she can't write in the yearbook?" Sandy Marchelletta said Monday. "They did it completely behind our backs."
The pledge forms were only meant to remind students at the Milton school to be considerate while signing yearbooks, Susan Hale, spokeswoman for Fulton County schools, told the AJC.
"It was a pledge that the students were going to be respectful of one another," Hale said.
The pledges asked students not to scribble, draw pictures or use acronyms others wouldn't understand, Hale said. The same pledge was signed by fifth graders last year, she said.
But Principal Susan Matzkin did not see the pledges before they were given to students, Hale said. Matzkin, Hale said, believes written pledges weren't necessary and could have been handled with verbal instructions from teachers.
Fifth-grade teacher Beth Brock apologized in an email to parents Monday and said the school plans to no longer require the signed forms.
"Teachers will lead discussions with students about respecting yearbooks, and we ask for parental support in reinforcing this at home," Brock stated in the email, obtained by the AJC. "Students will be trusted to choose school appropriate acronyms/language."
But even being told not to write disrespectful comments in yearbooks seems silly to students.
"We're not going to write anything bad for someone else," Roxy said. "It didn't really make sense to me."
Alyssa said it's not an issue because she plans to let only friends sign her yearbook on the last day of school Friday.
Click here for Ajc video coverage.