A suburban Chicago high school student captioned his senior photo with a quote generally attributed to Nazi leaders, prompting the school to halt its yearbook distribution for the time being, according to students and school officials.
"If you tell a big enough lie, and you tell it often enough, it will be believed," the message, situated under a student’s photograph in Highland Park High School’s yearbook, reads.
The quote is attributed to "anonymous" in the yearbook but is often credited to Nazi leaders Adolf Hitler and his minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels.
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The quote is one of two offensive statements to make it into the school’s yearbook, according to school officials.
"This year, students brought to our attention that they found two quotations in the yearbook to be unacceptable and offensive. Senior quotations are reviewed and approved by a team, and we take full responsibility for having missed the quotations that should have never been published in the yearbook," Township High School District 113 said in a statement. "Any act that disrupts the learning environment or makes our students feel unsafe is unacceptable and will not be tolerated."
In a letter to parents, the school’s principal apologized and said no further yearbooks will be distributed "until we are able to rectify the situation."
"We apologize that we missed quotations that should not have been published in the yearbook…These quotations do not align with our mission and values and have no place in our learning community," the letter from Principal Debby Finn read. "We actively work to eliminate hate speech and anti-Semitism in all of our learning spaces."
Students said they were shocked and disturbed to see the senior quote in their yearbook, saying it was particularly alarming given the largely Jewish student body.
"Promoting the speech of an evil person is not only wrong but vile. It amazes me that a kid could be raised in this community and espouse these words from such an animal and continue think it's okay," one student said in a statement.
It remains unclear if disciplinary actions will be taken against the students involved.
It’s not the first time the quote has appeared in school yearbooks.
Last year, a Massachusetts senior submitted a variation of the Nazi-originated quote, prompting a public apology from his high school. Last week, the same senior quote stirred controversy at a high school in Green Bay, Wisconsin, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette.